PPS Danse announced on Sunday afternoon the death of its founder and artistic director, Pierre-Paul Savoie, following a long battle with cancer. He had just turned 66.
An important figure in contemporary Quebec dance, Pierre-Paul Savoie was a choreographer-performer and director having worked as much for the stage, cinema and television, multiplying collaborations with theatrical, musical and circus institutions. His significant contribution to the dance world has been recognized on numerous occasions with prizes and distinctions, including the RIDEAU tribute award in 2008.
He had founded PPS Danse in 1989 and devoted himself to it “until the very end,” the company shared in a statement, adding that the versatile artist “has been surrounded by friendship and love until the very end. at the end of an illness that he will have assumed with greatness and humility. He will be sadly missed by his husband, Arnold, his family, loved ones and the Quebec dance community.
“He was a man of great humanity, of a great heart and of great generosity who was entirely dedicated to his discipline”, expresses Ginette Ferland, distribution agent for PPS Danse who had known Mr. Savoie for 35 years. .
Co-artistic director of PPS Danse for about a year and a half, choreographer and performer David Rancourt first met Pierre-Paul Savoie in 1999, when he arrived in Montreal, through the Regroupement québécois de la danse (RQD). , where this denier held the presidency for five years. Mr. Rancourt has worked with the company for about ten years; he notably co-created with Mr. Savoie the play The chairs, in 2013.
“He’s a being who really loved people. In the studio, he was a hard worker, not to say fierce, meticulous and passionate. The work animated him so much that just last week, we were still in a meeting, even if he could not be in the studio with us, for a new creative project that we had just launched ”, explains the one. who will henceforth be the sole artistic director of PPS Danse.
Pierre-Paul, he worked until the last minute, until the last breath, almost.
A life of creating encounters
Born January 14, 1955 in Maria, Gaspé, Pierre-Paul Savoie was trained in dance at Concordia University. He became known in particular in the 90s with the flagship work of PPS Danse, Prison, co-created at the time with Jeff Hall, with whom he formed an unclassifiable duo for fifteen years.
Dialogue between disciplines was at the heart of his work. Over the course of his career, he has collaborated in particular with Luc Plamondon, Claude Poissant, the National Circus School, has adapted for the stage tales of Jacques Prévert. He distinguished himself with the creation of choral works that were very successful, such as Body Love Anarchy, dedicated to the work of Léo Ferré, and Dance Lhasa Dance, a tribute in music, song and dance to Lhasa de Sela, of which he presented a revamped version in January 2020.
In interview with Press At that time, he had spoken with great discretion about his illness, adding that Lhasa’s work resonated all the more strongly at this particular period of his life. “It’s an artistic choice to want to talk about death. What Lhasa taught me is how to die, how to learn to die, an emotion – and a taboo – universal, ”he told us.
The testimonies collected by Press all paint the portrait of a man entirely dedicated to his art, generous and open, who knew how to create sincere bonds with people.
Choreographer Hélène Blackburn of Cas Public salutes the memory of this man who was her friend, but for whom she also had a lot of admiration. The two got to know each other through the Jean-Pierre Perreault Foundation at the time. “His humor… it was funny working with him, he always had a contagious humor. He’s someone who never felt sorry for himself, he was always on the positive side, ”recalls the one who has collaborated on some of his projects, including Dance Lhasa Dance.
She remembers how the meeting with the public was essential for the artist, who was involved body and soul in all her projects. “When he switched to young audiences, he did it in a very personal way, he animated all the meditations with the children. He was very generous, and people paid him back. ”
Alexandre Désilets met Pierre-Paul Savoie, whom he considers a friend, but also a “mentor”, even before he released his first record. He has collaborated over time on several projects with the artist, notably for Dance Lhasa Dance, Body Love Anarchy and The treasure, the creator’s ultimate completed creation, a work for young audiences presented in early 2020.
“Even in his illness, Pierre-Paul was really surprising, because his projects and art have always remained in the foreground,” he notes. He understood the power of the arts, which is that of creating breaches in reality, of creating waves that will affect people, of making it possible to complete this complex puzzle that is life by making connections with the world. mind, heart and body. ”