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Joyce Hinton on Danse Lhasa Danse

Many months ago, former Senior Curator for the PuSh International Perfoming Arts Festival Sherrie Johnson first brought the beautiful performance Danse Lhasa Danse to my attention.  I was instantly intrigued as I had long been a huge fan of the Montreal based, world music singer-songwriter Lhasa de Sela who had made quite an impression internationally as well as in Canada, winning numerous awards and major recognition.

I distinctly remember how sad I was the day Lhasa died. It was New Year’s Day of 2010, and she succumbed to breast cancer at only 37 years old.  I felt the world had lost a great artist who still had so much to contribute. That day, I listened to her most recent self-titled album with rapt attention.  I was incredibly moved by the gorgeous, almost spiritual music. The lyrics in some of her songs seem to imply self-knowledge of her impending death despite the fact when the songs had been written, she had not yet been diagnosed with cancer.

In Danse Lhasa Danse, Artistic Director Pierre Paul Savoie brings together seven dancers, four singers and five instrumentalists including members from Lhasa’s original band, in a moving multi-disciplinary tribute to this great artist.  I saw the piece performed outdoors at the Luminato Festival in Toronto last summer.  The powerful interaction between the singers, band members and dancers in strikingly choreographed pieces completely drew me in. There were video clips of Lhasa in performance, tastefully and thoughtfully interspersed throughout the show, and were the only spoken words that evening.  I noticed audience members a generation younger than me mesmerized by the universal appeal of her music and song-writing, and the passionate interpretations by the singers, musicians and dancers.

Many of the pieces were light-hearted, others more soulful and yearning. At one point, close to the end of the performance, there is a video clip of Lhasa talking about her father’s view of death. This poetic and uplifting moment is made even more touching in light of the knowledge that Lhasa is no longer with us. Despite my tears, I felt a certain lightness and optimism for the people I love who have died, as well as for myself and my inevitable death one day.

I loved this performance. Lhasa’s music is utterly engaging, and the interpretations of these fine Quebecois artists so compelling.  I invite you to join us for this performance on January 18 and be uplifted by a poignant tribute to an exceptional artist.


Joyce Hinton
Co-Managing Director, Chan Centre for the Performing Arts

Fri Dec 20, 2013