Live Documentary

Louise Moyes is known for her “docudance” performances, an innovative mixture of dance and storytelling incorporating materials from various media. Her new show, Moore-Galant, features theatrical and film interpretations of stories by local legend and recent Canada Reads winner, Lisa Moore, and the Montreal-born master of the short story, Mavis Gallant.

What does the “docu-” part of “docudance” stand for exactly?
It refers to the documentary aspect of a lot of my work. Often I tell people’s own stories, in their own words and accents, like a “live” onstage documentary, through film, theatre and dance.

A sense of place and the way it manifests in people seem to be essential concerns of your work. When you give performances abroad, do you make any changes to your performances? Do audiences react differently?
Certainly they react differently. I would say the most intense performance I have ever had was in Cape St. George for my show “Florence,” about a woman from the Port-au-Port. The community centre was full and the audience was loud—they laughed at the sad parts (laughter of recognition) and cried at the funny parts. They were with me all the way. One man said afterwards “I never thought I’d see a show about the places I know.”

When I perform abroad, the reaction is one more of curiosity than such a tight familiarity. Mind you, even when I performed in New York, I thought beforehand, “How will city people react to this show?” but, you know, most everyone has rural roots somewhere, and they connected through that. In Tasmania, which is much like Newfoundland, people said directly that except for the French elements, “Florence” could have been about a woman from there. In New Brunswick, audiences identified with Florence as an Acadian woman, which was a whole other feeling for me as a performer.

Do I change the performances? In a show with French content, I vary the French-English quota, depending on the levels of the audience. When appropriate, I actually give a slide show on the basic history and show off the geography of Newfoundland and Labrador before I perform.

How does your new show relate to your previous shows?
It will be quite different from most of my previous shows, although I have done works made by other choreographers in the past five years, Jo Leslie and Eryn Dace Trudell, where if there was text it was not from interviews.

But story is still central to all my work. The Mavis Gallant piece is like my previous work in that I am working with film, song, theatre and dance to tell a story, intercut in a non-linear way. There is a verbatim first-person account from Gallant in the form of an excerpt from her diary…

Lisa Moore’s story will be a complete contrast, in all ways. More contained, more focused, me telling the story from beginning to end, with three simple props and a pool of light. It is a sculptural and contained telling, to reflect Lisa’s very fine, multi-layered story. It was published for the first time this Fall in Anansi’s The Selected Short Fiction of Lisa Moore.

Why did you choose to pair these particular stories?
While they are completely different in topic, “All Zoos Everywhere” and “Rue de Lille” to me both deal expertly in the many ways of self-deception; the ways we lie to ourselves.

Michael Ondaatje said of Gallant’s writing: “Before we know it she will have circled a person, captured a voice, revealed a whole manner of a life in the way a character avoids an issue or discusses a dress. She meets these characters in the zone between thought and possible action.”

Gallant writes about a complex love triangle; Moore about a man, a gorilla, a woman and Heidegger. And the line between human and animal, which is always rich and full of tension.

Moore-Galant runs from March 6-9 at the LSPU Hall.