Festival des Arts de Saint-Sauveur to Produce Ten Dancefilms Over Two Weeks

The hefty undertaking will replace the live summer festival, in response to COVID-19 By Philip Szporer
  • Elvira Misbakhova / Photo by André Chevrier

In an ambitious response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Festival des Arts de Saint-Sauveur (FASS) is going online and aiming to produce ten dancefilms, shooting five films per week over an intensive two-week period. 

Presented by FASS, in collaboration with Orchestre Métropolitain, A Shared Solitude, 20 artists, 20 creations, 1 voice unites ten choreographers and ten composers to create ten original dancefilms. 

The online project will run July 5 through September 6, highlighting the work of diverse and celebrated Québec-based artists. Each week, a new dancefilm will be released.

“The situation at hand forced us into this different conversation,” said Guillaume Côté, artistic director of FASS. “My justification is we’re all living [with] uncertainty in unsettling times. Shared Solitude is our means to revive hope and demonstrate the power of creation, and that the imagination can never be quarantined,” Côté said.

To create the dancefilms, composers will write new pieces then hand them off to the choreographers. On the filming days, the musicians will perform live. Artists include choreographer Daina Ashbee with composer Alejandra Odgers and flautist Caroline Séguin; choreographer Côté with composer Éric Champagne and pianist Yannick Nézet-Séguin; and choreographer Crazy Smooth with composer Marc Hyland and clarinetist Simon Aldrich, among others. 

Eva Kolarova / Photo by André Chevrier


Coté and his FASS team were not interested in streaming archival material of past festival content. Instead, the consensus was, “Let’s make dancefilms.” Established filmmaker Louis-Martin Charest directs all ten of the five-minute films, which he calls “episodes.” The structure involves a preamble, where viewers will see interviews with the artists, conducted by Côté and Nézet-Séguin during the works-in-progress. “The idea is to offer an insight into the artistic process during these singular times in our history,” Côté said. Then the dance itself will screen, followed by a short reflection on the experience. “It’s guerilla-type filming. You’ve got to be really mobile,” Charest said. 

Patrice Richer / Photo by André Chevrier


Teams are working at breakneck speed to complete the project, with five films shooting in late June and the remaining five in mid-July. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, the bare-bones film crew will work outdoors in Saint-Sauveur and the surrounding panoramic Laurentian region. 

Margie Gillis / Photo by André Chevrier


For the festival’s thirtieth anniversary next year, if everything goes as planned, Côté is looking to bring these ten dances back in extended versions. “We hope to present them outdoors,” he said.

A Shared Solitude, 20 artists, 20 creations, 1 voice will stream every Sunday starting July 5 until September 6. Click here for more details.

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