Helen Simard

What can we expect from the unexpected? What can we recognize in the chaotic, in a world governed by unpredictability? Drawing on the aesthetics of street and contemporary dance, PAPILLON juxtaposes three solos and a live experimental soundtrack in a complex trio that explores the delicate balance between order and disorder.


In assocation with Nindy Banks, Mecdy Jean-Pierre, Victoria Mackenzie, Rémy Saminadin, Roger White & Ted Yates - performance
Roger White –
musical direction
Stéphanie Fromentin – rehearsal direction
Mathieu Leroux – dramaturgy
Alexandra Landé – artistic consultant
Hannah Kirby – lighting design
Jody Burkholder – sound engineer

A Danse-Cité & Créations Interdisciplinaires We All Fall Down coproduction.

Helen Simard © Roger White_2020

In common language, the word “chaos” is understood to refer to a state of total confusion or disorder. But in mathematics and physics, chaos refers more accurately to the complicated relationship between order and disorder, considering the elements that contribute to a delicate balance of the two. Chaos Theory examines the complex patterns all around us, questioning how tiny changes or adjustments in the initial conditions of a complex system can lead to drastically different and seemingly unpredictable results. Understanding chaos allows us to expect the unexpected, recognize the order in randomness, and realize that what we perceive as disorder is in fact a series of interlaced levels of order, interdependent and folding in upon each other. It is this nuanced comprehension of chaos that serves as the conceptual starting point for Papillon.

I’ve long been fascinated by chaos, and have seen it as a vector of poetry that’s central in my work. I strive to create interdisciplinary dance performances that trigger states of sensorial overload to steer us away from logical thinking into more affective, visceral ways of experiencing art. My hope is to give space to the messy, the raw, unsettled spaces of life. In this new creation, the dancers and musicians will perform together in a perpetually redefining state of reality, where strong images and emotions emerge suddenly, only to be shifted or shattered without notice. Exploring chaos has allowed me to embrace the paradoxes of the world around me and accept all that is beautiful yet disturbing, familiar yet strange.

With Papillon, I’m working with three very different dancers — Nindy Banks, Victoria Mackenzie, and Mecdy Jean-Pierre. I had to quit b-girling four years ago because of chronic injuries, and rediscover the way I danced after training in one specific way for so many years. With this project, I’m interested in exploring how my movement signature can be worked into the expression of a unique, imagined collective body or identity that exists between myself and the interpreters: to recognize myself in their dancing, while simultaneously recognizing the space that the dancer occupies in me.

Helen Simard is a choreographer who has been working since 2000 in Tiohtiá: ke, or Montreal.

After working with Solid State Breakdance for 12 years, an artist collective that combined street and contemporary dance, and participating in the creation of 9 shows, she switched gears in 2012 to lead her own artistic projects. Helen collaborates with musicians and dancers to create raw, visceral interdisciplinary shows, including On the Subject of Compassion (2011), Can You Hear Me? (2017) and Dance Side of the Moon (2018). She uses the codes and aesthetics of rock music, creating lively, interactive, performances that challenge the conventions of stage dance forms. For 6 years, her research was focused on the icon of American punk rock, Iggy Pop. Inspired by the music, persona, and cathartic dances of this legendary performer, she created a hallucinatory trilogy of interdisciplinary works— NO FUN (2014), IDIOT (2017), and REQUIEM POP (2019).  Helen is currently artist in residence at Playwrights's Workshop Montreal for the 2019-2021 season, through their interdisciplinary writers lab. She is using this opportunity to write her first play, When Your Baby Dies. In 2019, she founded with the company We All Fall Down | Interdisciplinary Creations, with the composer Roger White.

A graduate of the BFA in Contemporary Dance from Concordia University (2000), Helen also holds a MA in Dance from UQAM (2014).

“ How do we create under confinement? How are we together while alone? How can we generate empathy, not images? How can we travel through time while being in the present moment? How will we grieve what we've lost while moving towards the future? How can we learn to sit comfortably in friction? How can we be three dimensional in a two dimensional frame? " - Helen Simard

Financial supports Conseil des arts du Canada, Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec

Creation residencies : CCOV, Carrefour Culturel de Notre-Dame-des Prairies (en collaboration Diffusion Hector-Charland), Danse à la carte, La Chapelle Scènes Contemporaines, Playwrights' Workshop Montréal.