Michael Caldwell and Louis Laberge-Côté are partners in life, and in dance. They live in a nice village condo and work at The Citadel: Ross Centre for Dance, a lovely new facility situated in a sketchy part of town. I spoke to the men last week, as they took a break from rehearsing Michael's upcoming show, Factory.
The publicist describes Factory as "a place of intense social connectivity lacking real human interaction" and that it "will thrust audiences into a surreal, post- traumatic world of chaos, power, and deception." Sounds heavy.
"We don't really know what time it exists in," Michael says of Factory. "It does have a bit of a post-apocalyptic feel …"
"… which comes through the soundtrack," says Louis, completing the thought. "Like radio sounds, that post-war feeling. It always feels to me like what it must have felt like after the bombings. It's not obvious that this is what happened, as we don't see war at all, but the vibe is there."
"Originally it was a pure exploration of solitude, of making the choice to be alone," explains Michael. "It stemmed from my mother's passing. I took a solo trip to Vietnam at the time, and kept journals, then decided to explore those journal writings with five dancers. From there we started to create movement, find ways of working together."
I had to ask, what's it like to have a career as a professional dancer.
"I was fortunate," says Louis. "I always had work, and never had a major injury. But dance is hard. You get very tired. You think both 'I'm so fortunate' and 'please make it stop.' I mostly teach now. It's my new passion. But not everyone stops dancing. There are dancers who work well into their 50s. You have to do it for deeper reasons than just the money."
"Also, you can't rely on just being a performer," suggests Michael. "A lot of dancers become administrators or yoga teachers or personal trainers to fill in the gaps."
Louis told me that he is also busy preparing an ambitious solo piece, at least 90 minutes long, for next season. "It's a bit of my swan song. It allows me to explore all the stage fantasies and stage nightmares that never happy in my career. With this show, I will make them happen. It's called The Art of Degeneration."
But first up, Factory, which sounds dark and moody. Does it have a happen ending, I ask? "Eventually the group enters the space, moves things around, and at the end we do get to this idea of hope," explains Michael. "The reason it is called Factory is because it is about these systems we have in our lives, and the only way to combat these things is for all of us to come together."