It is the foot that made the step

C’est le pied qui fait le pas

Photo: Catherine Legault Duty
The time of a repetition, The Good Devils strike with passion the floor in a jig furious.


Excluded school-based programs, sometimes lost, momentarily, through the mesh of generational transmission, the living heritage, however, has managed to survive up to us in feet and hands. In time for the Holidays, The Duty asked of gigueurs, drummers and weavers share their art and their passion with us, and enter us in the dance. Second of three texts.

In the basement of the church of Laval, where the folk dance The Good Devils repeats his upcoming show, twenty young frisky 19-to 26-year strike with passion the floor in a jig furious.

Yaëlle Azoulay, câleuse, gigueuse, teacher and artistic director of the troupe, leads couples in a square set, quadrille or contredanse.

Most of the young people of the Good Devils had never seen a sketch of a jig before you enroll in courses of folk dance.

The daughter of French immigrants who settled in Quebec, Yaëlle Azoulay had not seen at home. Moreover, there has never been a gigue in France and we are the only French-speaking ones to the practice, explains the câleur, dancer and folklorist Pierre Chartrand, in an article entitled ” The misunderstanding of jitter “, published on the website Mnemo dedicated to the dance and the traditional music of québec. Chartrand also explains how we arrived here to call “jitter” a dance that is called in English, in Irish and Scottish stepdancing.

Steppeux or gigueux ?

“Still, it is worth mentioning that this designation is not widespread, also writes Pierre Chartrand. One gave still more recently the title of “steppeux” to gigueurs today, and Louis Boudreault stated well, in the 1970s, that the fiddler was called “gigueux” while the dancer was called generally the “steppeux.” “

The jitter, in the France of the Nineteenth century, refers to a dance live “somewhat frisky” and, by extension, the legs or the thighs, which allow for ” swing “.

Jitter, therefore, it is in Quebec, and in a school of folk dance, that Yaëlle Azoulay has learned. And then, she found herself fascinated by the history of the folk dances and wanted to pass it on. So she learned to câler. “For me, câler, it has a teaching side. It is a form of communication, to explain to people what to do. At one time, people knew how to dance. But we are no longer there, and the need to explain, ” she said.

Some time ago, Yaëlle Azoulay participated in a collection ethnological on the jig with the filmmaker Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette. “We met an old man who giguent in their garage. In the region, they do not have opportunities to giguer as in Montreal, ” she said. It was found that the gigueurs. There are everywhere, but there is not a lot. “

We met an old man who giguent in their garage

— Yaëlle Azoulay

According to her, it’s been thirty years that the practices of traditional dance in the feasts of family, region, are in decline. In the framework of the festival of traditional music, The Drums, Port-Neuf, Yaëlle Azoulay has seen older people who had danced in their youth to run a few dance steps. “People, some of them had over 80 years of age, had not danced for the last thirty years. But it was crazy to see. There were some who had met while dancing. “And the vigils of quebec, unlike those in the Maritimes, for example, leave less room for the jig to sets of squares.

Succession, it is now in schools and dance troupes, folk that this is happening. “It is thanks to the troops of folklore that the jitter still exists “, says Luc Fleury, dancer and choreographer, founder of the Biennale de gigue contemporaine (Bigico).

C’est le pied qui fait le pas

Photo: Catherine Legault Duty
The next generation is now trained in the schools and the troops of folk dance.

Éva Dortelus, for example, began dancing with The Good Devils at the age of eight years. Born to a mother of haitian origin, she had never seen folk dance to the house. However, some sets square were also present in the tradition of haitian. “They danced to the haitian, in swaying. But that was the past, ” she said. After having practiced ballet, ballet jazz and hip-hop, among other things, Éva Dortelus is currently conquered by the folk dance in quebec, ” because it’s happy “, she said, but also because it is a dance that requires contact between the dancers, which allows them to touch.

It is in the midst of the armies of folk dance are also from the members of the Biennale de gigue contemporaine (Bigico), which reinvents the jig for a few years by integrating it with contemporary dance.

In the dim light of the auditorium of the Theatre of the Stables, in the Villeray area, several dancers were engaged earlier this month to a representation of Jitter in the Dark 2.0, where the movements of contemporary dance alternate with those of the jig. Sitting on the floor of the room, all lights off at times, the public feels better the vibrations of the shoes on the floor.

“The jig is danced generally with the bottom of the body,” explains Luc Fleury. We, one uses the whole body, with movements of contemporary dance. “In parallel to these experiments, the founder of the Bigico, however, continues to dance with the traditional dance troop Les Éclusiers de Lachine. For him, it is” a political gesture ” to the survival of traditions.

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