The first piece at this year's Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville (FIMAV) was a deeply collaborative and very weird duet for sound artist and dancer. Bill Coleman is a Toronto-based dancer and choreographer whose work is really hard to describe; Gordon Monahan is just the same, but in sound-creation. Together, they created something that was a mind-boggling fusion of music, movement and environment.
The piece began with Coleman contorting slowly and silently at the stage's front. Soon, however, we started to hear something that sounded like every time he moved his bones were cracking. Maybe part of this was Monahan's doing, but it turns out his clothes were also filled (I mean filled) with pieces of crinkly plastic. Watching Coleman, I was constantly reminded of silent film stars, particularly Buster Keaton in Samuel Beckett's Film.
Things went downhill for Coleman from there: He lost his clothes; he got used as a human theremin; he got shot with a lot of arrows; he got nailed by a thunderstorm. Throughout, there was a fantastic sequence of sounds. It was rarely clear if they were generated by Monahan or by Coleman knocking into some mic'd thing or another, but I think it was probably Gordon's design. And it was totally insane.
What a nice way to start a fest.