By STEVEN HOWELL
---- — MONTREAL — The Montreal stage puts its best foot forward with a variety of unique dance performances.
First up, Danse Danse presents “Autorretrato” or “Self-Portrait” by internationally acclaimed flamenco star Maria Pages. Dubbed “The Queen of Flamenco,” Pages created the work when invited by Mikhail Baryshnikov to perform at the Baryshnikov Art Centre.
“I was trying to imitate the approach of painters as they produce self portraits,” Pages said in the press release about the work.
Pages is joined by eight dancers and six musicians on the Place des Arts stage tonight through Saturday (April 4 through 6). Tickets range from $38 to $66.
Danse Danse returns, this time with Sinha Danse and Constantinople, to co-present “Sunya,” a work for four dancers and three musicians that combines a fusion of dance styles set to a Persian-inspired soundtrack.
The choreography comes courtesy of Roger Sinha, who mixes martial arts, contemporary dance and bharata natyam, a traditional Indian dance.
Music is provided by Kiya Tabassian of Constantinople, a Montreal-based world-music ensemble.
“Sunya” is presented at Cinquieme Salle of Place des Arts April 17 through 20 and 24 through 27. Tickets cost $36.
ELTON JOHN BALLET
From flamenco to flamboyant — next, is a ballet inspired by a British pop icon. Les Grands Ballets Canadiens presents “Love Lies Bleeding,” a ballet inspired by the music of Elton John and Bernie Taupin.
“It’s ballet in a cabaret form,” said Grands Ballets Canadiens Executive Director Alain Dancyger.
The work, choreographed by Jean Grand-Maitre, the artistic director of the Alberta Ballet, features everything from “Broadway and Las Vegas-style cabaret to rollerblading, street dancing and jive.”
The soundtrack includes 14 iconic John/Taupin songs, including “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” Bennie and the Jets” and the title track.
And what’s an Elton John ballet without a costume or two — or 150? Costume Designer Martine Bertrand oversees some 150 colorful costumes, 60 wigs and more than 400 additional accessories.
“Love Lies Bleeding” is performed April 10 through 14.
Closing out Les Grands Ballets Canadiens’ season is “Dream,” an original GBC work choreographed by young German choreographer Stephan Thoss.
For the work, GBC artistic director Gradimir Pankov gave Thoss “free rein to choose the form and theme of his new work, a full-scale ballet for the company’s entire troupe of 38 dancers.”
“Dream” is performed May 16 through 25.
Danse Danse and GBC productions are performed at Place des Arts at 175 St. Catherine St. W. For more information call (514) 842-2112 or visit www.pda.qc.ca.
Agora de la Danse boasts a contemporary dance repertoire in Montreal’s Plateau district.
The space presents the student choreographic productions of the nearby University of Quebec at Montreal Dance Department.
Master’s candidate Frederick Gravel presents a new work April 10 through 13, while the graduating class presents student choreography April 17 through 20. Tickets cost $10.
Next is “When We Were Old / Danse Carpe Diem,” a two-hander choreographed and performed by Chiara Frigo and Emmanuel Jouthe, April 24 through 26. Tickets range from $20 to $28.
Agora de la Danse is at 840 Cherrier St. Call (514) 525-1500 or visit www.agoradanse.com.
Usine C, a former factory turned performance space, offers a number of unique productions. That said, the narrations and text are often in French; the dance and visuals are universal.
From Belgium is “Kiss & Cry” by Michele Anne De Mey and Jaco Van Dormael, a visual feast of film, dance and theater told through a set design that employs projected miniatures and main characters — that are pairs of hands.
“Kiss & Cry” is presented April 23 through 28. Tickets cost $35 for adults.
Next is “Quatre Creations,” or “Four Creations” conceptualized by choreographer Jonathan Burrows, a former soloist with London’s Royal Ballet, and Italian composer Matteo Fargion.
The “Creations,” a quartet of nonsensical lighthearted pieces, include “Cheap Lecture” and The Cow Piece” on May 9 and 10, and “Counting to One Hundred” and “One Flute Note” on May 11. Tickets cost $26.
Usine C is in the Village at 1345 Lalonde Ave., one block south of Ontario Street. Call (514) 521-4493 or visit www.usine-c.com.
Finally mark the calendar for the seventh edition of Festival Transamerique, a unique festival of hundreds of dance and theater performances May through June 8.
Steven Howell is the author of Montreal Essential Guide, a Sutro Media iPhone travel app available at iTunes.com.