September 2001 performance, La Nouvelle Scène, Ottawa (unpublished)
Lustrale: between water and light
By Trish Edwards
lus•tral [lústr l ] adj. Serving to purify the spirit, or relating to ceremonies of religious purification. [Mid-16th century, from Latin lustralis , lustrum, "purification." Probably ultimately from an Indo-European word meaning "light, bright."]
The contrast of soothing, fluid water and sparkling cold blue light on stainless steel parallels the lives and relationships between women-sometimes sharply clear, sometimes oblique or refracted, but always influencing.
As the stage slowly illuminates, the audience focuses on a dancer whose inner reflections seem to echo through and escape her body. She is surrounded by diverse sizes and shapes of metal vessels. Three glass jugs of crystal clear water sit nearby, ready for pouring.
The vessels themselves evoke images that reflect womankind. One resembles a womb, a warm, nurturing environment; another, a wok, used by many women the world over to prepare family meals. A long rectangle with five bowls, from small to large, suggests a journey. The last container resembles a spiritual bath, where one’s very soul can be immersed to be cleansed.
Lana Morton, Michèle Bastien and Jacqueline Ethier, each dancing with seeming abandon and freedom, yet unerring precision, trace the life passage of women and their relationships with others through solos, duets and a threesome.
Bastien introduces dance vocabulary early on that is repeated by all the dancers, a fluid action, now the signature of Ottawa choreographer Anik Bouvrette. The movement begins in the pelvis-where life begins and unfolds-and reverberates through the torso.
In one section, an action by one dancer sets up a chain of movements in the others. A hip rotating slowly and sensuously sideways bumps gently up against another dancer causing another movement, then another and another, ending always in the torso vibration. The domino effect seems symbolic of the effect women have on one another.
One touching duet typifies the voyage of women through their many phases of life, supporting and being supported by other women. Bastien moves from the smallest to the largest bowl of water, dipping a tentative toe in here, an experimental finger in there, balancing and advancing, sometimes hesitant, slipping, sometimes confident, determined-guided by a calm, ever-present, and reliable Ethier, another woman who has been there and shared the experience.
Near the end, each dancer claims a vessel. First one, then another, they balance precariously, hands and feet on the thin edges, then sit and absently run their fingers over them, as if smoothing away a sharpness or crease.
As the stage fades to black, one is left with final images like Bastien curled fetus-like in the small, womb-shaped vessel, only just big enough for her petite body. Morton kneels in the wok, splashing water high in the air to feel the sparkling drops fall on her upturned face, and Ethier, floating in the bath with eyes closed and feet draped over the end, lifts her head and body slowly out of the water, hair streaming, as though re-born-and purified.