In 1957, Édouard Lock's parents moved to Montreal, where he studied film and literature at Concordia University. He began his choreographic career at the age of 20, creating works from 1974 to 1979 for a variety of Canadian dance companies and institutions. In February 1979 the New York Times reviewed his appearance on stage together with Martine Epoque:
- "Something is happening, but one is never sure what. The atmosphere is palpable in Mr. Lock's 'Remous,' with women stretching their white skirts against the light, murmured names and a dreamy partial striptease atop a table."
He formed La La La Human Steps in 1980, and began choreographing full-length works, which soon attracted international attention. Since 1985, each work for La La La has toured internationally for up to two years. The company was disbanded in September 2015 owing to financial difficulties.
He founded Lock Danseurs, the precursor of La La La Human Steps, in 1980, and started to work with dancer Louise Lecavalier, his muse and close collaborator for 18 years. In 1980 Lock's Lily Marlène dans la jungle was presented at Montreal's Théâtre l'Eskabel, then at The Kitchen in New York. The following year, he won the Jean A. Chalmers Award for choreography for Oranges, and was honoured with the same award again in 2001.
In 1985, Human Sex established Édouard Lock's international reputation as one of the great choreographers, and in 1986 it earned him a Bessie Award from New York's contemporary dance professionals.
Reviewers in Montreal dailies described Édouard Lock's first works as almost cartoon-like, identifying his style as urban in nature, his choreographies characterized by stop-start movements restricted by the space available to the dancers. His style then began to concretize with Human Sex, which combined high-energy performance with precise gestures, culminating in an integration of dance, sport, rock and cinema. In New Demons, film projection became part of the dance, with the repeated image of a continually falling body. In Infante, c’est destroy, the film-related work approached the realm of symbolic analysis.
In 1988, Lock drew upon the vocabulary of classical dance for the first time in his career as part of a commission for the Dutch National Ballet. His artistic partnership with dancer Louise Lecavalier continued until 1998, with her horizontal twisting leaps becoming an iconic feature of their collaboration. Since 2001, Lock has required his classically trained dancers to undergo sports training.
Édouard Lock's works feature modified ballet, a melding of choreography, music and film, as well as multiple lighting changes that create a distorted sense of the perception of the body. Sexual ambiguity is another ongoing thread, and in Human Sex he was already reversing the expected roles, with female dancers raising their male partners into the air and Louise Lecavalier, with her androgynous body, wearing a tutu and false moustache. In a general sense, Lock's style has been based since the mid-80's on the pointe work of his female dancers (plus the male ones since Amelia and Amjad) who, spun by other dancers, perform extremely fast pirouettes and borrow from various figures in the vocabulary of classical dance.
Édouard Lock's works have appeared on film. 1987's La La La Human Sex duo no 1, directed by Bernhard Hébert and starring Louise Lecavalier and Marc Béland, is a short black-and-white film which won six international prizes including one from the Festival international du film sur l'art de Montréal. Also directed by Bernhard Hébert, Le petit musée de Velasquez (1994), is a free adaptation of eight choreographed pieces from Infante, c’est destroy. Actress Markita Boies appears alongside the La La La Human Steps dancers in this colour feature filmm which blends contemporary dance with the world of the great Spanish Baroque painter Diego Velázquez.
The film adaptation of Amelia, directed by Lock himself, received its American premiere at the TriBeCa Film Festival in 2004, and its European premiere at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. It was honoured at the Chicago International Film Festival, the Festival de la Rose d'Or in Switzerland, and at the Prague International Film Festival. Amelia also won the Jury Award in all categories at the Banff World Television Festival, as well as two Gemini Awards for Best Performing Arts Direction and Editing as well as two I.C.E. awards for best photography and best editing.
Édouard Lock has also worked with several figures in the world of music. He created a choreographed event with David Bowie and Louise Lecavalier as part of the 40th anniversary celebrations of the Institute of Contemporary Arts, filmed by video artist Nam June Paik, then continued his collaboration with Bowie in 1990 as creator and art director of his Sound + Vision world tour. In 1992. he worked with Frank Zappa on the performance of Yellow Shark, alongside the Ensemble Modern, the Frankfurt Alte Oper, the Berlin Philharmonic and the Vienna Konzerthaus. He also commishioned works from and colllborated with Iggy Pop, Einstürzende Neubauten (Blixa Bargeld, Marc Chung, F. M. Einheit), Shellac of North America (Steve Albini), Skinny Puppy, My Bloody Valentine (Kevin Shields) David Van Tiegham, West India Company (Stephen Luscombe, Pandit Dinesh). He has also worked with American composer and Pulitzer Award winner David Lang for Salt (1997) and Amelia (2002) and with British composer Gavin Bryars, for 2, Amjad, and New Work.
- 1976 : Temps volé
- 1977 : La Maison de ma mère
- 1977 : Remous
- 1978 : Le Nageur
- 1980 : Lily Marlène dans la jungle, Western
- 1981 : Oranges ou la Recherche du paradis perdu
- 1983 : Businessman in the Process of Becoming an Angel
- 1985 : Human Sex
- 1987 : New Demons - La belle et la bête
- 1988 : Bread Dances for Het Nationale Ballet
- 1990 : Infante, c'est destroy
- 1995 : 2
- 1996 : Étude for Les Grands Ballets Canadiens
- 1999 : Exaucé/Salt
- 2002 : Amelia, AndréAuria for Opéra national de Paris
- 2003 : Les Boréades for Opéra national de Paris
- 2007 : Amjad
- 2011 : Untitled/New Work/A Piece by Édouard Lock
- 2013 : The Seasons for São Paulo Companhia de Dança
- 2013 : 11th Floor for The Cullberg Ballet
- 2014 : Reprise AndréAuria for Opéra national de Paris
- 2014 : Creation for LA LA LA Human Steps contemporary arts - exhibition at the Boijmans Museum Rotterdam
- 2014 : Directed a film of The Boijmans Museum event
- 1986 : Bessie Award (New-York)
- 2001 : Knight of the National Order of Quebec
- 2001 : Officer of the Order of Canada
- 2001 : National Arts Centre Award
- 2002 : Prix Denise-Pelletier
- 2003 : Prix Benois de la Danse
- 2004 : Gemini Awards
- 2006 : Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada
- 2010 : Governor General’s Performing Arts Award
- 2010 : Molson Prize
- 2010 : Doctor honoris causa, Université du Québec à Montréal
- 2011 : Prix Premio Positano Leonide Massine per la Danza
- 2012 : Prix du CALQ pour la meilleure tournée internationale
- Édouard Lock at The Canadian Encyclopedia
- Archival footage of Louise Lecavalier performing Édouard Lock's A Few Minutes of Lock in 2011 at Jacob's Pillow.
- La La La Human Steps
- Watch the 2010 short documentary Lock at the National Film Board of Canada
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