Le Grand Continental
The annual Luminato Festival always brings something unexpected to town: this year I was thrilled to catch Le Grand Continental, an outdoor dance extravaganza, featuring roughly 250 local performers.
Le Grand Continental dancers
As the long day was ending dark clouds began to gather over the immense space at Nathan Philip’s Square. Was rain going to fall in buckets and ruin the months of work these amateur performers had dedicated to the piece? The rain held off and the dance performance went on. It was truly a joyful celebratory piece! Everyone was feeling good about people! How they can work together! People can achieve anything! And about comfortable footwear! And colorful sports attire!
Video of Le Grand Continental
The choreographer, Sylvain Emard, has had a lifelong fascination with line dancing and has created similar, massive, outdoor artworks, with amateurs, all over the world. Participants — all non-professionals of varying age, physical ability and body type — must commit to three months of rehearsals. They report feeling challenged and ultimately changed by the sometimes daunting experience of mastering 30 minutes of choreography.
“The work has a certain vision of humanity,” says Sylvain Emard. He mentions a political element and I can see that some might want to earnestly explore that aspect of the piece because, yes, it is there — but for me what was so entirely refreshing and delightful about this work is the spectacle of pure, unrestrained joy. Sometimes that’s all it takes.