Last September, Fly Pan Am released C’est ça, their first album in 15 years. Now, commissioned to create the soundscape for FRONTERA, a collective multimedia performance that leads the charge at this year’s PuSh International Performing Arts Festival, the Montréal post-rockers are back with a very big bang.
FRONTERA fuses the band with Animals of Distinction, the contemporary dance company of renowned choreographer Dana Gingras, and United Visual Artists, a UK-based art practice. With its title meaning “border” in Spanish, the show uses live music, wild movement, and striking lights to explore concepts of boundaries and surveillance.
Though mixed-media endeavours are familiar terrain for guitarists Roger Tellier-Craig and Jonathan Parant (outside the band, Tellier-Craig and Gingras are frequent collaborators, and Parant has worked extensively in congruence with dance and theatre), FRONTERA was a unique undertaking.
Parant describes the creative process as a series of co-existing ecosystems. The first was Gingras and a few dancers, who then worked alongside UVA to design the lights. Fly Pan Am entered into the third ecosystem and composed by watching, listening, and doing. As they developed the score, the choreography and lights shapeshifted with them, and vice versa. “There was this constant push and pull that ended up crystallizing,” Tellier-Craig explains. And as the collective have begun to publicly perform the piece in its entirety, he says, the work has continued to transform.
Borders are liminal spaces, too—something we can’t tangibly see, but we feel—and the notion expands both metaphorically into the performance experience, with interactivity between the artists, and physically. “I feel like we’ve never seen [the show],” Tellier-Craig laughs. “We have a few layers of different types of opacity, curtains going up and down.” These, he adds, are a type of frontier that can feel limiting, but also very freeing.
“I’m totally obsessed with liminal spaces,” Parant says. “Sometimes a border is very open. It’s what you don’t perceive. The space where matter is intertwined. Is it the beginning of existence or the end of it?”
Thursday, Jan. 30 // Queen Elizabeth Theatre // Tickets