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Montreal’s BJM Danse brings an eclectic showcase of work by rising-star choreographers 

“It relates to how troubled the world is today.”

BJM Danse’s Céline Cassone and Mark Francis Caserta in Itzik Galili’s “Mono Lisa”

Photo courtesy of Alon Kohl

BJM Danse’s Céline Cassone and Mark Francis Caserta in Itzik Galili’s “Mono Lisa”

In a 2015 review of Montreal-based BJM Danse, I referred to the troupe as “dance’s cool kids from up north with hairstyles to match.” Add that they might also be Canada’s most plugged-in company when it comes to working with contemporary ballet’s rising-star choreographers, and you have something pretty unheard of for a troupe that’s been around for 45 years.

BJM’s April 22 Pittsburgh Dance Council program at the Byham Theater — its first stop here since 2010 — features a trio of just such up-and-coming choreographers.

Created on BJM in 2012, American-Israeli Barak Marshall’s “Harry” was inspired by the inner conflicts we all experience with regard to culture, gender and species. The energetic, sometimes humorous 40-minute dance-theater piece for 13 performers is set to an eclectic soundtrack ranging from Wayne Newton and Maria Callas to jazz and Israeli folk songs. “Harry” revolves around a character who struggles to overcome forces both physical and existential. Says BJM artistic director Louis Robitaille by phone from Montreal, “It relates to how troubled the world is today. There is a lot of theatricality, and the dancers speak, which brings the work to a human scale.”

Another work about conflict is Amsterdam-based Israeli choreographer Itzik Galili’s eight-minute pas de deux “Mono Lisa.” Set to Galili and Tomas Hofs’ industrial soundscape of atmospheric music, typewriter sounds, and clanking iron and steel, the technically challenging, tension-filled battle of the sexes will be performed by principal dancer Alexander Hille and BJM’s poster diva, the international star Céline Cassone.

Rounding out the stylistically diverse ballet offerings will be Greek choreographer Adonis Foniadakis’ “Kosmos” (2014). The 35-minute work for a dozen dancers set to rumbling drum music by Julien Tarride was inspired by the frenetic bustle of everyday life. In that aforementioned 2015 review of BJM, I called “Kosmos” a tour de force of stamina-challenging movement for BJM’s dancers and a wild ride for the audience. Its final section offers a respite as it settles into quiet images of the beauty of the cosmos.

More than just a killer showcase for the talents of cool kids from up north, says Robitaille, “This program will expose the audience to three completely different [choreographic] voices and show how rich dance can be.”

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