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Antenna ECHO Edouard Lock Film Cover

When Unplanned Magic Takes Shape at PHI

  • Interview
  • PHI
By  Kevin Delaney

Creator hors-pair, Edouard Lock, has created his next opus. What started as an explorative choreographic research project, became through a seamless sequence of events Lock’s newest hybrid choreographic and film work—ÉCHO.

Antenne Echo Edourard Lock IMG1

With a career spanning 45 years, this seasoned artist has stories one can only dream of. From working with the likes of Frank Zappa, experimental music group Einstürzende Neubauten, performing in theatres such as le Palais Garnier in Paris, to being given a chance to co-conceive and art direct for David Bowie’s world tour, Sound and Vision at the age of 34, one could say Edouard Lock is a star of the dance milieu.

As a professional dancer and artist myself, well-aware of Mr. Lock and his work, I was immensely honoured to have the chance to sit down face-to-face with him and investigate the way he sees the world and constructs his art.

“It’s not the meaning of words that is interesting, it’s the rhythm, the cadence, the mise en bouche, the way the words are put together—they create the identity of a language. This is the same as choreography.”
Antenne Echo Edouard Lock IMG2

While studying literature in university, an elective course in theatre made him realize the non-functional nature of movement in dance which thus sparked Mr. Lock’s interest in the art form. “Dance is everywhere” he explained, seeing our every-day aesthetic choices as choreographic language—the way we hold a cup of coffee, the way we choose to sit in a chair, when the functional element is removed, the rest is a form of personal expression for the viewer, as though we are having physical conversations. This linguistic connection between movement in choreography and the word in language, was the link for Edouard Lock, and his starting point.

Lock's career as a choreographer started quite rapidly after studies, experimenting with different dance techniques in the US, Canada, and Europe, before putting his first work on stage at the Outremont Theatre (Montreal) in 1974. As we discussed his process and jumped forward in time to his work with his former dance company, La La La Human Steps (1980-2015), Mr. Lock explained that the company didn’t do much preserving of past works.

“You can’t step away from something if you remain fascinated by it, or in love with it—you need to reject some part of the previous work in order to evolve towards something new. This rejection of past aesthetics and attraction to new ones discourages to a certain extent the preserving of past works.”
Antenna Echo Edouard Lock IMG3

This impulse, he continued—the worthwhile search for an unanswerable question rather than its outcome, is what drives him forward.

The beginnings of ÉCHO took shape in this fashion. During the throes of early pandemic-lockdown (after the disappointing cancellations many artists endured), Mr. Lock decided to play with something he typically turns away from—solo work. And what started as a 3-week research, has become a 25-minute choreographic and cinematic composition of shadows, light, movement and original music. It features principal dancer from Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, Ms. Rachele Buriassi, who effortlessly slips in and out of movement, and draws us into contemplation, with her large eyes and facial language.

Mr. Lock shared his huge gratitude for all those who supported and made the work possible—notably PHI, and PHI Studio for offering the space to explore the choreographic writing of the work, and the ability to then add a stunning visual environment around the work, producing the film.

“Dance hasn’t reached a limit yet; it hasn’t reached a point where there is nothing else to say. I am still fascinated by what dance can do, what dancers can do…they do amazing things—and it’s not modified or enhanced, they share the same body and tool as the audience member watching, and this I find very evocative and powerful.”
Antenne Echo Edouard Lock IMG4

Finally, when discussing the future, Mr. Lock explained that the things we plan for, often turn out to be our disappointments, and the things we don’t, tend to be our revelations. We ebb and flow, as we make choices based on rejection and discovery. I was inspired to hear that a veteran explorer such as Edouard Lock still chooses the unbeaten path, and if this is how he fell upon his newest work, there must be some magic to his method.

See the trailer here:

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