On June 16, Guillaume Côté said goodbye to Romeo. He performed Prokofiev’s famous ballet Romeo and Juliet for the last time in Toronto. But he did not say goodbye to Shakespeare. He will be Hamlet, in a co-production by Ex Machina and his company Côté Danse, directed by Robert Lepage, at the end of July.
“I always dreamed of developing my own Hamlet in choreography, said the dancer in an interview with La Presse. The character has been underdeveloped in the world of dance, because it is a role based on text, words, psychology… Things that are not easy to illustrate with movement. »
Côté sees in Hamlet a manipulative, egocentric and paranoid character… In short, an antihero, a register that he is not used to interpreting. “In ballet, I’m mostly asked to play heroes, prince charmings. »
And how can you capture the twists and turns of Hamlet’s thought without the words? Guillaume Côté believes in developing characters in a different way. By focusing on impressions, feelings, atmospheres.
“The absence of words forces us to clarify things to better embody them,” adds Robert Lepage. There is an added value because it becomes very physical. Since there are no monologues or puns, the story is told through the action and locations that are important to the theater. The scene of confrontation between Hamlet and his mother in the bedroom, the bed takes on great importance. The carnal, sensual, oedipal side in the mother-son relationship takes on its full meaning. »
If the director always returns to Shakespeare, it is because his work is immense and always to be explored. Prior to Côté’s offer, he had adapted Hamlet for his solo Elsinore and in Russia for Hamlet Collage. “And Courville is also a bit inspired by Hamlet,” he says. He may one day direct “a real Hamlet”, he says, because at 65 he now wants to revisit the classics. His own and those of others.
Hamlet is an indecisive, cerebral, pensive young man, plagued by doubt. This inability to act has always interested Lepage. “In the scene where actors come to play in the king’s palace, Hamlet is surprised to see them crying in the theater for chimeras. When he has every reason to scream, to scream, but nothing comes out. Sometimes doubt paralyzes us. There is a lot of indecision in Quebec. Everyone wants to change business, but inertia always wins. »
This is the second collaboration between the man of theater and the dancer after Frame by Frame, around the filmmaker Norman McLaren.
The cast displays performers of different ages and styles. It ranges from break dance to classical, through contemporary and hip-hop. “I really like the democratization of dance,” says Côté. And Robert has the same vision as me. I didn’t think I liked opera until the day I saw his opera productions. Robert approaches ballet in the same way. »
“You know, in work, Robert has no ego,” Côté says. Everyone is equal in the rehearsal room. If a collaborator or a young dancer has a better idea than his, he includes it in the show. I approach creative work the same way. Instinctive and organic. »
On stage, carried by the cast and the music of John Gzowski, Guillaume Côté will give a marathon performance lasting 1 hour 50 minutes. This role is a bit of a gift he gives himself at 41, at the peak of his dancing career. This will not prevent the director of the FASS from participating in talks with the public, after each performance, in the company of Lepage and the artists.