Le Claque (2015)

Is it possible to be sincere, critical, subversive, and disruptive simultaneously? Is it possible to have genuine enthusiasm for the work we do as artists, while recognizing we have a long way to go before we save the world?

Le Claque is a site-specific work which asks its audience to consider the performance inherent in our everyday civic choreographies. The work takes its title from the early 19th century French tradition (in turn inspired by Emperor Nero) of implanting a group of audience members or, “le claque,” into the theatre to initiate enthusiastic applause. These plants, backed by the institutions of opera houses and state theatres, were meant to sway the opinions and hearts of fellow theatre-goers and proposed social guidelines for their fellow audience members to adhere to. Claqueurs were also instructed to cry, laugh, and direct their neighbours’ attention to points of excellence in the performance unfolding before them.

Le Claque plants performers in the theatre of the city, applauding such choreographies as development, gentrification and displacement, an ant crossing the sidewalk, the city’s designation of public park facilities as artist residencies, public acknowledgements of unceded Aboriginal territory, and the resting oil tankers which dot our coastlines and coastal views. As a stop in DiV’s Choreography Walk, the work will attempt to direct a public gaze towards the choreographies of place — from ant to freighter — in which we hold environmental, economical, emotional and social stakes. In this context, the simple act of applause contains the possibility for renewed resonance. Sincerity, urgency, and the kernel of protest lie at the heart of this performance.

Le Claque was presented as a part of Dance in Vancouver’s Choreography Walk, programmed by Justine A. Chambers, November 19th and 21st, 2015.

video of the Choreography Walk by Modus Operandi student Jenna Mazur: