Shana Carroll… 25 years ago….

“25 years ago, this week, I moved to Montreal. Miriam de Sela didn’t want her return flight, so impulsively I took her ticket (back when you didn’t need an ID to board an airplane), relocating on the spur of the moment. I showed up at lÉcole Nationale de Cirque de Montréal, explaining that I had now arrived and was there to go to their school and they thus had to take me. They in turn explained there was normally a lengthy admissions process, and I was WAY past the deadline, and the school was full. Classes had begun! I explained (again!) that I was THERE and not leaving and they had to take me. I went every day for 2 months until they let me in. (Incidentally, this is not a tactic I recommend on present day ENC).

During that time I observed trainings: André Simard — the main reason I’d traveled across the continent! And other greats of the era: Zigmund! Daniela Arendasova teaching flex! Wonderful Wawa (Warren Conley) of course too. And watching those golden-age trapeze artists that pumped me with enough inspiration for a lifetime: Sky de Sela, Adèll Nodé-Langlois , Titoune, Esther Fallu, Blanc-Brude Caroline , Caroline Therrien, Xavier Lamoureux.
I spent a month sharing beds with Ayin and Lhasa until moving in with my soon-to-be BFF of that year, Catherine Archambault.
So 25 years ago I fell in love with this city that I now call home. This city that I have now lived in longer than my own original home. I finally got used to the 6-month winters, to French and English in constant fluid motion careening about in my brain, to not turning right on a red light (though I still curse about that last one regularly)
And here, to commemorate, a totally cringe-inducing video… Early 90’s graphics and synth music and slow-mo montage and EYEBROWS and scrunchies and fluffy hair!
Plus: a very young Jan Rok AchardCatherine Magis, Pierre Carrier, Jacinthe Tremblay, Robert Bourgeois, Marc Gauthier, Jade Kindar-Martin, Mercedes Chenard… and 22-year old me trying to be deep (some things never change)
(They also randomly grabbed footage of Salitmbanco, as it was the Cirque show that had just opened. So completely coincidentally this video manages to capsulize my entire 20’s! There’s even a shot of Huang Zhen! And underscored with the voice of another beloved friend of that decade, Francine Poitras)”

Video

Shana Carroll

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Conference at the National Circus School… Sneak Peek

Gypsy Snider, Co-Artistic Director of Les 7 doigts de la main, was invited to speak at a conference entitled Mixing the circus body with other performance domains at the National Circus School of Montreal, along with Andréane Leclerc (Nadère arts vivants), Brandy Leary (Anandam Dancetheatre) and Alain Francoeur (National Circus School). She spoke with frankness and wit about what motivates and inspires her in this field.

“Circus is a tool to communicate a message. It offers unlimited expression. It does not confine itself to one art form, but, rather, integrates all of them.”

Raised in a circus family in the United States (Pickle Family Circus), Gypsy became aware of circus conventions when she was very young, and later turned brilliantly towards dialogues with other art forms.

During the creation of the musical Pippin (Broadway, 2012), Gypsy reimagined the show and the role of circus in its revival. While the initial script looked more to circus as an accessory, Gypsy reversed this trend and choreographed circus into narrative. Those elements became a major strength of the musical, attracting the best reviews and helping earn the show four Tony Awards.

“Circus blurs the boundaries between different art forms in order to unite, transcend, and sublimate them on stage. “

Beyond its convening power, circus also carries a message. In her creative research, Gypsy encourages circus artists to ask themselves questions about their practice: What are the trick and the choreography really saying? What emotions can they express? How can they fit into a story and why are they happening at that particular moment? Every movement holds meaning, nothing is random. It’s about more than aesthetics: it’s the intention and the meaning that count: the physical dance serves the narrative.

“The beneficial and instructive role of improvisation allows the artists to transmit and appropriate concepts, going beyond pure creative research.”

In the first days of a show creation period, Gypsy organises improvisation sessions with carefully selected artists. These sessions are often held behind closed doors, as they can be very intense for the artists, who completely invest themselves, learning to get to know the other performers while revealing very private feelings. These sessions are also an occasion for the performers to adapt, to polish, and to become part of the show. It is the artists who then the carry the message they have built together, and it is a part of themselves that they offer onstage.

This creative process reinforces the universality of the message delivered, because each person has shared his or her experiences and feelings to give meaning to their collective work.

“The creative process of Réversible, les 7 doigts de la main’s newest creation, is a combination of all this learning, all this experience.”

In the current creation of the company’s latest production, Réversible, Gypsy is working with eight artists, each one a character who undergoes a merciless battle between his or her carefully constructed social self vs. the wild, fragile, and secret inner self – a self they prefer to hide so as to protect themselves in society. The unconscious enters into a deep inner struggle and escalates as it is confronted with being seen by others. Every acrobatic gesture takes root in the identity and the feelings of the artists in order to deliver to the audience a truth that resonates within each person in his or her own way.

After a one-week improvisation and creation workshop last February, Réversible goes back in production in mid-July in Montreal. The world premiere will take place November 16 at the TOHU.

Interviewed in the framework of the conference “Mixing the circus body with other performance domains” April 7, 2016, at the library of the National Circus School of Montreal.

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TRACES – Success in Paris !

33,000 spectators for Les 7 doigts de la main in Paris


Les 7 doigts de la main have just closed a run of 59 performances of Traces at the Bobino performance hall in Paris.

The seven artists of Traces took to the stage on February 3, and played five times a week to consistent audiences. The collective feels privileged to have been able to perform for three solid months, considering the circumstances following events on November 13 in Paris and March 22 in Brussels.

With other current engagements in London, Argon, Brussels, Budapest, and Marrakech, Les 7 doigts de la main continue to make their way across Europe and the world.

We’d like to thank the audiences, artists, partners, producers, programmers, and government agencies without whose support none of this would be possible.

While Traces heads to the United States and Mexico this spring, we’ll definitely be seeing you in Paris again soon!

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LES 7 DOIGTS DE LA MAIN : CO-WINNERS OF THE 31ST GRAND PRIX DU CONSEIL DES ARTS DE MONTRÉAL

Montreal, March 24, 2016 –Not one, but two victors were crowned today at the 31st Grand Prix du Conseil des arts de Montréal. Les 7 doigts de la main and the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal were co-winners of the award and its $30,000 purse. The jury praised the two organizations as ambassadors of Montreal’s vibrant artistic community.

Since its inception in 2002, Les 7 doigts de la main has become one of Quebec’s leading contemporary circus troupes.Exploring all possibilities of the vast discipline, its artists have developed a unique artistic identity—and earned worldwide acclaim. In 2015, the company enjoyed a banner year. With Triptyque, a magnificent cross between circus and dance, Les 7 doigts de la main created a bold work featuring acrobatic performances of the highest level, a milestone in the history of circus in Quebec. In addition, Les 7 doigts de la main received a prestigious Drama Desk Award for Queen of the Night, performed at the Diamond Horseshoe in New York.

The Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal set out in 1964 to promote and preserve Quebec contemporary art. With theexhibition Flux, MAC transported us into the dazzling, vertiginous world of Montreal artist David Altmejd. A record-breaking 124,000 viewers visited the museum’s galleries, where some thirty works were on display, including two previously unexhibited pieces. Through an ingeniously designed itinerary, visitors were treated to mirror and refractory images, demonstrating both the artist’s technical mastery and his intelligent reinterpretation of sculpture. The exhibition was not only an artistic highpoint of 2015, but a galvanizing event for the museum, which attracted a wide audience of both novices and connoisseurs, of allages.

The winners were announced by Jan-Fryderyk Pleszczynski, Chairman of the Conseil des arts de Montréal,in the presence of Luc Fortin, Minister of Culture and Communications, Minister Responsible for the Protection and Promotion of the French Language, and Minister Responsible for the Eastern Townships, as well asDenis Coderre, Mayor of Montreal, and Louis Lalande, Senior Vice-President of Radio-Canada, the official partner of the Grand Prix. More than 800 personalities from the artistic, municipal and business sectors attended this annual event hosted by France BeaudoinZab Maboungou/Compagnie Danse Nyata Nyata, winner of the Conseil’s 2015 Prix de la danse de Montréal (Cultural Diversity), as well as soprano Marie-Ève Munger and pianist Louise-Andrée Baril took part in the festivities, delighting audiences with their stirring performances.

Presided over by Jan-Fryderyk Pleszczynski, this year’s jury includedDanièle Henkel, founder and President of Daniele Henkel Inc., Michel Lemieuxand Victor Pilon, artistic co-directors of Lemieux Pilon 4D Art and winners of last year’s Grand Prix, and Kim Thomassin, Managing Partner for the Quebec region at McCarthy Tétrault.

The finalists for the 31st Grand Prix were: the Centre des auteurs dramatiques [CEAD], the Festival interculturel du conte du Québec, Les Films du 3 Mars, Studios XX, Louise Bédard DanseSacré Tympan and LA SERRE – arts vivants. Each nominee received a $5,000 prize offered by generous Montreal patrons.

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Finalists for the 31st Grand Prix

Thanks to each who contributed to our nomination… we are finalists for the 31st Grand Prix of Conseil des Arts de Montréal

Montreal, January 12, 2016 — The Conseil des arts de Montréal is today announcing the finalists for its prestigious 31st Grand Prix. Each of the nominees had a powerful impact in 2015, reflecting the cultural vibrancy of Montreal. After reviewing the year’s artistic events, the Conseil singled out nine organizations for their outstanding achievements.

“The Grand Prix du Conseil des arts de Montréal expresses the pride and appreciation we feel for Montreal artists and organizations,” declared Nathalie Maillé, the Conseil’s Executive Director. “These artists forge our identity; they are like Montreal’s ADN. The Conseil is delighted to celebrate their achievements.”

The following organizations were nominated:

Centre des auteurs dramatiques [CEAD] for the leading role it has played in the birth of Quebec theatre, supporting the creative vitality of its dramatic arts, its international visibility and openness to diverse creations.

Festival interculturel du conte du Québec for its ability to reinvent itself over the course of its thirteen editions with an intercultural program and productions appealing to all generations.

Les Films du 3 Mars for the unique nature of its mandate, for its backing of each title in its catalogue, and for its flair for unearthing important works from artists of all stripes: independent, well-known, emerging or culturally diverse.

Studio XX, the only media resources centre for women in Canada, for its support of alternative practices stemming from cultural minorities.

Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal for David Altmejd’s exhibition Flux, whose dazzling, vertiginous world attracted record numbers in 2015.

Les 7 doigts de la main for Triptyque, a magnificent exploration combining circus and dance, and for its prestigious Drama Desk Award for Queen of the Night, performed at the Diamond Horseshoe in New York.

Louise Bédard Danse for the contributions its director has made to the city’s artistic landscape, exemplified by the Série Solos cycle, and for the restaging of Cartes postales de chimère, a major work featuring two dancers from the new generation.

Sacré Tympan for its breathtaking 2015 season, and for Parlures et parjures, an evolving production interweaving narrative, contemporary music, folk music, jazz and rock.

LA SERRE – arts vivants for an unprecedented year of international promotion and for its role as a creative catalyst for young, avant-garde performing artists, encouraging dialogue among artists from all disciplines.

Unveiling of the winner on March 24, 2016
The winner will be announced on March 24, 2016 at the annual luncheon held at the Palais des congrès de Montréal. Each finalist will receive a $5,000 cash prize generously offered by Montreal patrons-of-the-arts, while the winning organization will receive the sum of $30,000, along with an artwork commissioned from a Montreal artist. Join us at this special event. Tickets and further information can be obtained atwww.artsmontreal.org/en/grandprix.

Through the collaboration of Radio-Canada, the event’s official partner since 1994, a video directed byAlejandro Jiménez will introduce each of the finalists.

Grand Prix du Conseil des arts de Montréal
Every year since 1985, the Grand Prix du Conseil des arts de Montréal has recognized the excellence and outstanding contributions of an artistic organization. Past winners that have contributed to the city’s creative and innovative culture include the Festival du nouveau cinéma, Cirque du Soleil and Compagnie Marie Chouinard. The winner is announced at an annual luncheon that brings together the cultural, business and municipal sectors.

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Gypsy is directing the new Darcy Oake’s show

After collaborating with renowned illusionist Darcy Oake on his TV show, Gypsy Snider is touring the touring show Edge of reality.
The premier opens september 15  in Rhyl (UK), followed by a UK tour.

The show will be presented in Canada starting october 31 with a presentation in Montreal November 7.

ALL THE INFOS ; HERE

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Collaboration and exchange with ARTCIRQ

Artcirq is a community-based circus and multimedia company composed of northern and southern artists and based in Igloolik, Nunavut, Canada. The project began in 1998, co-founded by Isuma Productions, a film production company based in Igloolik, and Guillaume Saladin, an acrobat originally from Montreal. The intention behind the initiative was to prevent suicide by engaging the youth from Igloolik in meaningful activities. ARTCIRQ was seen as a way to give a voice to young people in a community where school dropout and suicide rates are high, particularly among young men.[1] Artcirq is a nontraditional circus, blending techniques of modern circus such as juggling and acrobatics with elements of Inuit culture, including throat singing and drum dancing.

In the last 13 years, ARTCIRQ and Les 7 doigts de la main have worked together on many different projects. These included many trips of one of our founders, Patrick Leonard, in Igloolik to participate in workshops, many collaborations between our artists and artists from Igloolik, and the presence of ARTCIRQ artists, along with mexican artists, in one of our Fibonacci Project. Last April, Patrick Leonard and Geneviève Drolet (hand stand performer) were back to Igloolik for a three weeks workshop at the Black Box, with Articrq and Circinq. Daily training sessions were open to the community, a powerful way to encourage people to get back in shape and to upgrade their technique, but more importabtly, to help young Inuits to develop trust in each other and to have fun with friends! At the end of those three weeks of outstanding human interaction and circus performances, everyone involved in the initiative performed on stage, for three representations, at the Black Box!

At the end of those 3 weeks of Indescribable human exchange, circus performances, they performed all together 3 shows at the Black Box !

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Incredible review for SÉQUENCE8 New York

From the New York Times, by the famous Ben Bratley

In ‘Séquence 8’ Acrobats Defy Gravity and Constrictive Words

Among the abundant talents possessed by Les 7 Doigts de la Main — the philosophizing acrobats whose delightful new show “Séquence 8” runs through Sunday at City Center — is a gift for subverting metaphors. Many poetic comparisons will probably spring into your mind as you watch this sexy, witty Montreal-based team distort, upend and mock the laws of physics that keep us earthbound.

But before you’ve come up with a fancy mot juste or two, the troupe will have blocked the trope. Those two guys who use what looks like a slender seesaw to catapult each other somersaulting into the heavens?

Well, when they’ve finished this particular act, they start bickering pretentiously about whether what they’ve done is about life’s eternal quest for balance or a matter of listening to ghosts. As for that tall fellow who juggles boxes into fluid, eye-teasing towers, he announces — in a product-plugging, talk-show-style interview — that he’s written a book on the theory behind it all: “How To Live With the Boxes You’re Thinking Outside Of.”

You can’t take any of what this company (which worked on the Broadway revival of “Pippin” and the cabaret circus “Queen of the Night”) says too seriously. Its special art defies not only gravity but also words. Any spoken explanations here have an ironic spin that plays with our desire to put these confoundingly agile young things into, uh, boxes.

The most eloquent commentary they come up with can’t be found in a dictionary. And that occurs whenever a performer holds a microphone up to another who has just completed a taxing routine, and the only sound you hear is amplified gasping for air.

Breathless, wordless — that’s how you’re left by “Séquence 8,” which is directed and choreographed by Shana Carroll and Sébastien Soldevila. This internationally touring company, whose “Traces” was seen in New York in 2011, brings a deadpan cool to daredevil activities that make audiences sweat with vicarious fear.

Many of the acts on view here resemble those you’ve seen in circuses — either the traditional big-top kind or the nouveau spectacle practiced by Cirque du Soleil and its imitators. Les 7 Doigts (that’s French for “fingers,” and, just to confuse matters, there are eight performers this time) jump through hoops, levitate up poles, form ever-ascending pyramids and, but of course, sail through the air with the greatest of ease on trapezes.

What sets the Fingers (if I may be so familiar) apart is the relative plainness of their presentation and their insistence that there’s nothing exotic about them. They’re just ordinary folks in street clothes, hanging out on a naked stage (no nets!) and listening to a mixtape. They just happen to have really great, supremely bendable bodies and are able to fly.

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And I mean truly fly — the way you do in dreams — without the clunky technology that big Broadway shows require to make actors seem airborne. The Fingers are propelled into space by basic-looking launchpads like the Russian bar — a sort of springy balance beam — and the Korean plank, or teeterboard. Sometimes they achieve flight with nothing but their own elastic muscles, or through being thrown into the air by their teammates, who are there to catch one another, if need be.

Oh dear, I feel a metaphor coming on. Note that the troupe’s full name, Les 7 Doigts de la Main, translates as the seven fingers of the hand, which suggests both separate units and inextricable bondedness. And throughout all the astonishing acrobatics, we’re aware of both the sharp, expressive individuality of each team member and of their reliance on one another. (And here let me mention them all by name: Eric Bates, Ugo Dario, Colin Davis, Devin Henderson, Maxim Laurin, Camille Legris, Tristan Nielsen and Alexandra Royer.)

Reading the program biographies, I gather that there is at least one proper couple (or life partners, or whatever one says now) within the troupe. And the whole show is pervaded with the sense of the tensions, fruitful and frustrating, that come from being both a singular entity and part of a unit. (There’s a scene in which the performers are connected by a labyrinth of duct tape that doesn’t always stick.)

There’s another intimate relationship in play during “Séquence 8,” the one between the performers and their audience. Mr. Davis, our occasional M.C., describes that relationship as a dance. If that’s the case, Les 7 Doigts might be compared — and I know I said comparisons are useless — to gymnastic Fred Astaires, who allow us to be airborne Ginger Rogerses for one delirious night.

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