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Usually Beauty Fails examines the pursuit of beauty

By Stephanie Tang, April 9 2015 —

Six dancers and a rock band will take the stage to create something beautiful at the performance-arts show Usually Beauty Fails.

The event, which is playing at Theatre Junction Grand beginning April 15, integrates both pop culture and avant-garde elements.

Frédérick Gravel, the show’s creator, director and choreographer, describes it as a “choreographic concert” where the music is as important as the dance performance.

Grouped’ArtGravelArtGroup, a collection of artists of various disciplines from Montreal, will act as dancers for the show. Musicians Charles Lavoie and Vincent Legault, members of Montreal-based haunted-folk trio Dear Criminals, will provide live music.

The show focuses on beauty as a theme. Conventional beauty, Gravel says, is a social construct that people are constantly pursuing.

During the creative process, Gravel says he started to ask himself what effect the show was having on himself and the performers.

“I got a lot of questions, and all these questions brought a lot of other experiments. That’s how we created the show,” Gravel says.

Gravel will switch between the roles of dancer, musician and emcee during the show. He considers each piece a short work of its own, and says that being the emcee allows him to connect with the audience.

Since Usually Beauty Fails first debuted in Montreal in November 2012, it has adapted and evolved. Gravel says that due to changes in availability, it’s not always possible to retain the same set of performers for every show. Instead, Gravel begins the training process for each show after he first meets the performers.

Gravel also leaves room for improvisation and encourages the group to do what feels natural.

The show is composed of Gravel’s ideas about beauty, naiveté and desire, though he says the show is still critical and energetic, yet can seem like a seductive, well-maintained machine. But at the same time, he’s always trying to put that machine at risk.

“It’s not always visible, so that’s interesting to see sometimes,” Gravel says of the audience’s reaction. “Who will see it? And who will just see it as entertainment and be really well entertained? Who will see all the questions we brought upon it, but that might be hiding under our show?”

Usually Beauty Fails runs from April 15 – 18, at 8:00 p.m. Student tickets are available for $20.

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