Line 1
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"Song & Dance with a Twist"

Choreographer Debra Brown likes to push boundaries. her new show is a tumbling act of music and movement.
THE GAZETTE
VICTOR SWOBODA, Freelance Published: Monday, March 05, 2007

Dominic Dagenais plays the guitar, but he can also do full back twists on the trampoline. In a unique music-dance-circus show called Line 1, he gets to do both at the same time.
The show, which has its premiere at the Corona Theatre this week, also has a bass guitarist playing while navigating a German wheel - two large metal hoops joined together that whirl him in circles around the stage.
Line 1 brings together 22 dancers, musicians and gymnasts under the direction of Debra Brown, a woman who knows a thing or two about putting on a show. For the past 20 years, she's done choreography for all of Cirque du Soleil's productions and for big-name pop singers like Celine Dion, Shakira, Bjork and Madonna.
Brown has also worked for the continent's major opera houses, including Chicago's Lyric Opera, where Wagnerian singers performed on bungee cords, and New York's Metropolitan Opera, where she collaborated on a Luciano Pavarotti production (Pavarotti was spared the bungee cord). Hollywood's Academy Awards, Vancouver's Expo 86, Montreal's World Aquatics Championships - all had Brown's work on display.
"I like to push boundaries," Brown said in an interview last week as Line 1's 10-piece band was making a rhythmic sound check in the background. "In Line 1, everybody mixes. Musicians dance. Dancers sing. If an artist has the talent, I always ask myself, 'What would I be surprised to see them do?' "
Brown promised, for example, "a little surprise" from one of her longtime Cirque performers, contortionist Jinny Jessica Jacinto, but naturally Brown was too coy to reveal what it might be. In a show like this, one can imagine Jacinto playing the violin with her toes.
Other Line 1 performers include Mary Sanders, a one-time member of the U.S. national rhythmic gymnastics team and performer in Cirque du Soleil's Corteo show; Sara Renelik, a singer-dancer in a 1994 Celine Dion TV special; and recent National Circus School graduates Hugo Desmarais and Ruth Joyal.
- Montreal Gazette, Mar 2007


"Strings, but far from attached: guitarist plays and sings while trampolining"



Published: Friday, September 14, 2007
Tough enough to play guitar well. Tough enough to perform acrobatic feats on the trampoline well. Try doing both simultaneously. Then again, kids, don't. You will likely hurt yourselves and will likely not be able to reproduce another generation of would-be guitarist-acrobats.

Dominic Dagenais has been told that he is the only person in the world to play guitar and flip around on a trampoline simultaneously - in front of a paying crowd. And there's little reason to doubt that, since this is not one of those careers one can pick up at college - even circus school.

Dagenais - also known as Omegadom - doesn't just play guitar. He lays down some mighty mean rock/R&B/funk riffs, and he sings, all the while doing front flips, back flips and 360-degree flips in rapid succession, hitting heights up to 6 metres, on the trampoline.

It is, to say the least, a dizzying experience, as those who caught his exploits earlier this year in the Line 1 spectacle at the Corona Theatre will surely attest. (It was a doubly dizzying experience for some who soon realized there was no need to tipple on the booze available at the Corona while watching the mesmerizing Dagenais on the tramp.)

Good news for those who want to watch Dagenais get high - and perhaps share in the experience. Line 1 is back by popular demand at the Corona this weekend and next. Apart from Dagenais, the show features two dozen dancers, musicians and acrobats and further pushes the circus/cabaret envelope to Twilight-like Zones in these parts.

Line 1 is the brainchild of Debra Brown, the Montrealer who choreographed nine shows for the Cirque du Soleil and who has given nifty stage moves to the likes of Shakira, Björk and Madonna (which only sounds like the name of a Martian law firm). Don't know what Brown has been munching on, but some of the acrobatic stunts - not just those by Dagenais - are otherworldly. And ya really gotta love keyboardist Joey Shanahan's martini-mixing juggling act- wherein he never spills a drop.

As for Dagenais, LaSalle's gift to culture, his ascent into the trampoline world has not been an overnight affair. In the early 1990s, he was part of Canada's national trampoline team and competed in several world championships. In fact, he was once rated as 12th-best on trampoline on this planet - attaining heights that nearly propelled him to other planets.

Curiously, Dagenais was first hired by Brown for Line 1 only as a musician. But when she got wind of his acrobatic ability, she incorporated it into the show. "It's funny, because in the music world no one knows about my trampoline background, and in the trampoline world, no one knows about my music," says Dagenais. "Both skills come naturally and easy to me. Debra felt the two would bring an interesting dimension to the show."

Dagenais only got into guitar seriously after suffering a near-crippling injury on the trampoline a decade back. He had been playing before his accident, but it was while he was on the mend that he took it up a few notches. "I had lots of time to improve my guitar while I was learning to walk all over again," he says. "Then when I was finally able to resume normal physical activities, I started to play with a bunch of local bands before starting my own group, Omegadom."

Dagenais hasn't had any accidents since resuming his acrobatics on trampoline. "I have to stay focused. The biggest rush for me, though, is listening to the crowd get revved up. The louder they are, the higher I jump. And the more consecutive flips I do. In one of the early Line 1 shows, I did a personal best of 36 consecutive flips while doing some of my best guitar leads ever."

Dagenais, 34, may also be the most fit member of the music world. "That's the trick. I have to keep up with the physical training or this work could get very dangerous very quickly."

Not surprisingly, Dagenais has caught the attention of the Cirque du Soleil and has even performed in a couple of its special events. But his focus now is Line 1, particularly with the buzz that the show may go to Toronto, New York and Europe.

"The timing for me has been great. Not long ago, I could have never done this act. Can you imagine a roadie trying to follow me on the trampoline, holding my guitar cable and making sure it stayed plugged into my amp? That would have been quite the feat," he cracks. "Fortunately, we're now in a wireless age."

- Bill Brownstein - The Gazette


Discography

Line 1 cd release in early summer.

Photos

Bio

The dynamic Montreal troupe, LINE 1, was founded by Debra Brown in 2004. Debra has choreographed Cirque Du Soleil’s touring productions, Cirque Réinventé, Nouvelle Expérience, Saltimbanco, Alegria, Quidam, Corteo, and permanent shows O, Mystère and La Nouba, plus their performance at the 2002 Academy Awards, for which she won an Emmy. She has also worked with the world’s most accomplished acrobats, dancers and musicians (Madonna, Shakira & Wyclef, Céline Dion, Björk, Aerosmith, Metropolitan Opera).
Embracing the earth then kissing the sky, Line 1 is a multicultural mix, part soul part world and Afro funk.

Main composer/ musical director Wesley Louissaint, originally from Haiti acts as musical director, the same role that he played last year in a Juno-nominated album by Senegalese-born Montreal songstress Senaya. He has also performed with Gage, Wyclef and many more. What’s new is his flying bungee guitar solo. Imagine that.
Band leader Wesley Louissaint Originally from Haiti, he was also musical director for Juno nominated album by Senegalese-born Montreal songstress Senaya. He has also performed with Gage, Wyclef and many more. What’s new is his flying bungee guitar solo. Imagine that. There is Omegadom, the only guitarist in the world to perform full twisting flips while laying down some mighty mean rock/R&B/funk riffs. The sexy percussionist,.Mélissa Lavergne, from Belle et Bum, Dobacaracol drummer Mohammed Coulibaly of African origin, vocalist/dancer Sara Rénélik who just released her album, Aube, . Or keyboardist Joey Shanahan's martini-mixing juggling act wherein he never spills a drop. Acrobat/character Marc-André Lavoie titillates the crowd atop his German wheel and lures funky bassist Patrice Agbokou to ride and play. The brass section, with original members of funkband Papagroove (Jean Francois Ouillet and Mattieu Van Vliet) along with Nicolas Boulay join in the physicality. Vocalist Marilyn Felix has shared the stage with various world artists including Luc Mervil, Sara Rénélik , Michael Benjamin and Wesley Louissaint. Last but not least Ugo Mazin originally from Africa residing in London has appeared in many music videos and Cirque du Solei's Zumanity.

That is the band. They perform on their own or we can also appear in full regalia with our acrobat dancers. Percussionist/dancer Barbara Requesens, a former biochemist who left to follow her dream, contortionist/dancers Laurence Racine and Jinny Jessica Jacinto who have won several international awards for thier work and had performed over 3000 shows for the Cirque du Soleil by the time they was 17 and 19, Mark Mendonca, tap dancer extraordinaire who opened for Barbra Streisand in Australia, Melissa Leclerc and Christine Harrison, 2 time world hip hop champions . Aerialist (eye candy)Samuel Alvarez performs with the grace of a dove. Marc-Andre Lavoie multitasks with his juggling, German wheel and comedic interludes.
Inspired and organic, musicians fly and dancers sing… LINE 1 is a celebration of the life, a multicultural experience using nothing more than all of us possess…heart muscle bone and blood.
COMPOSERS and SONGWRITERS:
Patrice Akbokou, Mohammed Coulibali, Dominic Dagenais, Danny Dauphin, Wesley Louissaint, Sara Renelik, Niurka Toleda, Yves Valbrun

" Everybody please get into the time machine, cause we are going back to the future, and forward to the past for the music- from dirty dirty motown to fast fusion to angelic inspirational - from the sounds from the birthing pains of mother earth - to the sultry summer nights where love is born, and set on fire...This is the sound of Line 1 Line 1 is your personal connection to hot ideas and powerful rhythms and joyous harmonies that make you want to shout out your devils and call in your angels, this is at once a wholesome and enticing feast for ears, eyes, and hearts. Hoorah, the men beside me shouted, repeatedly...and I realized my voice had joined theirs. Because of this - Line 1 is fresh...music, dance, movement, unlike anything you have experienced, anywhere. So Get in to the time machine, let’s go back, and lets go forward and let’s get into the here and now with Line 1. Here’s a promise, when you see Line 1 - you will experience entertainment from beyond today." Norman Walker