|Béatrice Larrivée - 24 August 2022|
0.1 – 00.1- 000.1
On September 1990 I was drinking a beer with American artist Jeff Koons at the Marble Arch bar. He was in Vancouver because his partner, the notorious Cicciolina, was undraping at that Marble Arch stage. I told him that there was a very good show of paintings by Attila Richard Lukacs at the Diane Farris Gallery featuring American Marine Corps troopers in dress uniform holding American flags. I suggested to him that the CBC might want to interview him at the gallery where he would give his opinion of the art on the wall. He was keen.
I called the CBC and this is what they told me, “Who is this Koons guy? No, we are not interested.”
That answer reminded me of another Vancouver cultural faux pas. When Willard Holmes was the Director of the Vancouver Art Gallery he was approached by the Mexican government which was sending a show of Frida Kahlo paintings for a show in a Tokyo museum. The paintings were going on Japan Airlines via Vancouver. The Mexican Government simply wanted Holmes and the VAG to insure the show while it was being shown in Vancouver. Holmes declined. I was told of this by his successor Brooks Joyner.
And today, 24 August 2022 our cultural faux pas persists.
Larrivée, 26, came over to my house for a portrait session. The b+w photograph above was the first photograph I took of her. To me it screams presence and skill.
She has been hired by the folks at Arts Umbrella Dance Company (she graduated from there in 2016) to teach the dancers a dance system called Gaga pioneered and developed by Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin.
Gaga is a movement language intended to help practitioners raise physical awareness by focusing on (or in Gaga terms, “listening” to) the rhythm of their bodies, letting them direct their movement and the pleasure that movement brings. Larrivée is based in Tel Aviv with the Batsheva Dance Company directed by Naharin.
I am not a dance critic but I started taking photographs of the best Canadian dancers in 1991for the Georgia Straight and by the beginning of this century I wrote articles on dance for the then very good Saturday Vancouver Sun. For many years I photographed and followed the dancers of the Arts Umbrella Dance Company that not only has sent their graduating dancers to Ballet BC but some of the best dance companies in Europe and the United States.
With that previous experience when I went to see Béatrice Larrivée at the Dance Centre this past Saturday and watched her dance solo for one hour I left with the conclusion that it was the best solo performance I have ever seen in this city.
I called the former Vancouver Sun Dance Critic who did not call me back. I called the former Georgia Straight Arts Editor and she did not call me back. I tweeted someone I know on CBC Radio and was asked if Larrivée was going to dance again. Interest disappeared when I answered in the negative.
I did not give up and went to the CBC and located, outside, some minions of the French CBC and asked them if anybody they worked for would be interested. They took my card and told me that if anybody were interested in interviewing and watching Larrivée give her Gaga class at the Arts Umbrella Dance Company they would call me.
They never did.
It all reminds me of the fly scene from the film The Magnificent Seven involving a has-been gunfighter Lee played by Robert Vaughn
Lee awakens from a nightmare, one possibly caused by the wine he drank from a gourd tied to his wrist. Two villagers rush in to comfort him. Lee admits that he’s scared. “The lies you tell yourself. ‘No enemies, alive.'” The film cuts to three flies buzzing around the table. Lee snatches one. We are shocked. Then he says, “There was a time when I would have caught all three.” The farmers soothe him, saying, “Only the dead are without fear.”
I feel like Mr. Vaughn in that at one time all the people I called would have called me back.
It was my Spanish grandmother who taught me the expression “un cero a la izquierda” or a zero to the left (of the decimal point. No matter how many zeros you place there the value will ultimately be the same 0.1
That’s me. But then I was lucky to take my portraits of Larrivée. This aging gunfighter has survived another shoot. It gives me the comfort that I am not quite obsolete, redundant, retired & inconsequential.