Although her association with Françoise Riopelle and Pierre Mercure had been creative and productive, by 1965 Jeanne Renaud was beginning to think about working more on her own. Therefore, when she was asked to participate in Expression 65, she quickly agreed. Expression 65 was a six-week celebration of the arts in Montreal. Renaud's choreography was produced at the “pocket theatre” of Place Ville-Marie in the city's downtown core. She gathered a small group of talented and dedicated dancers that, at the time, included some borrowed from Les Grands Ballets Canadiens.
Renaud and her design collaborators - working together as Le Groupe d'Expression Contemporaine - issued a statement emphasizing their belief in interdisciplinarity and extending an invitation to other like-minded artists to join them:
We have come to recognize and deplore the isolation in which artists from Quebec do their work.
The Groupe d'Expression Contemporaine is trying to bring together different artistic disciplines: dance - music - poetry - visual arts.
We invite interested artists to join with us so that we can discover the expressive elements we have in common.
Although her belief in interdisciplinarity remained steadfast, the choreographic works that Renaud created for Expression 65 (such as Planimètre, which was later performed on television) exemplified a shift in her thinking about choreography. She now rejected overtly theatricalized and narrative pieces. She was more influenced by abstract painters, and by avant-garde arts going in new directions beyond the classics. Historian Iro Tembeck writes that the experimental qualities and the abstraction of Jeanne Renaud's creations in the 1960s and 1970s were quite different from the expressionism of her early work. She had begun to investigate potential parallels through dances without story or overt meaning. She wanted to create an “evolution of movement” - without expression, but every moment had to have meaning from the inside, from the breathing. Despite the potentially esoteric nature of abstract choreography, the response to the noon-time performances during Expression 65 and Renaud's positive experience in the project, made the possibility of creating a permanent company tantalizing.
©2009, Dance Collection Danse
Jeanne Renaud Exhibition Curators: Ray Ellenwood and Allana Lindgren
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