Creating a new form of theatre

In the early 80s, Montreal was the focal point for the rediscovery of body language in the performing arts. In 1981, a group of artists from various backgrounds (gymnastics, theatre, juggling, mime and clowning) was the first to set up a company whose aim would be to focus on movement and create a new theatre form: Theatre of Acrobatic Movement and Clowning.

Making movement dramatic

To develop this type of theatre, the company combined various acrobatic and theatre techniques. As a result, not only does the storyline need to be developed—as in most plays—but above all a unique physical vocabulary in which movement conveys meaning, feeling, drive and virtuosity. With each new production, the creative team rebuilds the relationship between movement, text, lights, music and set. Since the company was established, this form has spread far and wide. Yet, as it develops productions, the company keeps challenging the notion and pushing it further.

Deepening the meaning and touching the emotions – early successes

Creating Mur-Mur (The Wall) in 1987 was a pivotal moment for the company. Indeed, the one-hour production was the first truly convincing Theatre-of-Acrobatic-Movement production. The collective creation proved to be a huge hit, which encouraged the company to continue in the same direction. Shaped both by the scriptwriter and the director, a writing style unique to this theatre form was already emerging. Accordingly for the following production, the company turned to a playwright who scripted The Challenge, a more dramatic work in which characters are better defined, their souls and innermost feelings coming to light through “fixed points”. A few years later, the company premiered Echoes of the River, in which the feats of a hero embody the secret hopes of a long-forgotten people. The production focused the acrobatics on group movements while the voice of a storyteller added another layer. By the late ‘90s, this series of original works proved that it was possible to script a play whose primary language was movement and that this theatre form could thrill audiences around the world. 

Movement and words – images and reality

In subsequent works, the company explored the role of spoken lines in movement-based productions. In 2000, the company premiered Lili, a poetic and personal work in which acrobatic movements reflect both the real world with its enthusiasm and excitement and the inner one with its fragility and anxieties. Theatre of Acrobatic Movement was putting itself at the service of the dramatic arts. The next production, me me me… (2003), dealt with a specific topic: school children rejecting one of their own. Through the use of objects, furniture and walls in the classroom, the movement, both acrobatic and everyday, conveyed the emotional mood of a group of school children, a mood that changed for no apparent reason.

Into the world of imagination – broadening the outlook

In 2004, the company put forward a lesser-known aspect of its character-development method: clowning. In Misstart, a production for stage clowns, the characters speak a kind of gibberish that may not seem understandable at first, but becomes crystal-clear for audiences thanks to movement that is acrobatic, minimalist and absurd. The next production, Thrice upon a time… (2006), is a tale in which the characters dive into a deep and dark abyss. It exposes the courage that children must show in a world that is often strange and inhospitable. Next came Ghosts and Ladders (2008) that featured a mysterious imaginary character whose influence would be key in the future of 3 brothers. The play sheds light on a heavy family secret. In 2010, the company produced The big bad wolf in which 3 stage clowns discuss the fascinating character of the wolf in children’s story tales. At that time, the company was on a creative roll when it opened 2 new acrobatic-movement productions. Against a backdrop of imagery, movement and music, I on the Sky (2011) chronicles the journey of an exiled woman looking to settle in a new country. And through parkour and slamming techniques, Edgewalkers (2013) introduced audiences to 4 young people hanging out in their backstreet. A newcomer stumbles into their world and messes things up. In 2013, following an invitation to take part in an international project called Documents of poverty and hope, the company produced  Inner Migrant in association with Portugal’s Teatro O Bando. An actor puts himself in the shoes of a Portuguese immigrant and takes the stage with a musician. Through movements, words and music, he recounts parts of Antonio’s life. This first involvement in international productions has opened possibilities for other similar projects.  With  What if Romeo and Juliet (2017), the company came up with a re-reading of Shakespeare’s classic through acrobatic movement. And the following question arises: can you imagine another ending than that of the death of these two children? What if…? The Nonexistent (2018) delves once again in the complex issue of exile. In this instance the project examines population displacement and the horrible conditions that force humans to flee and leave everything to survive. In 2019, the company coproduced Life-Cycle, featuring Guillaume Doin, a French circus artist the company met in the context of its training program. The coproduction is in fact a genuine commitment to strengthen its support of the upcoming generation. A man is confronted with family roots that don’t suit him anymore. In a world filled with magical realism and tinkered enchantment, he will turn to a two-wheeler to gauge his life. A new clowning production, Don Qui What!?!, freely based on the famous Spanish novel Don Quixote of la Mancha, opens in 2021. The play is coproduced with Théâtre de la Petite Marée based in Bonaventure. In a theatre venue, clown by trade Rod at the service of director Mr. Jacques and actor Tom unexpectedly meet Sancho Panza, Don Quixote’s faithful squire.

DynamO Théâtre – constantly moving

Over the years, the journey continues and artistic projects always keep challenging previous ones. They enhance the views and challenge the bounds of the acrobatic movement so that it remains meaningful. An ongoing concern for scripting the body and the movements on stage helps the company truly renew itself. In 2008 and 2021, the renewing of the artistic directorship ensured the company’s perpetuity and unique style. The project goes on!