Close the loop with a hoop

Taking the pretext of new appointments to the Order of Arts and Letters of Quebec, the To have to invites you into the imagination of artists whose exemplary work makes culture shine Today: Dulcinée Langfelder.

People like everything framed, everything in a box, with a label placed on it. They can’t stand it overflowing, blurring their bearings. I overflow! It’s the story of my life ! I never easily entered a category,” explains Dulcinée Langfelder. What’s so weird about her? Nothing. All. Mime, theatre, dance, so-called digital arts. All this at the same time, in variable, indefinable proportions. And that’s good.

“To tell the truth, I mostly circulated in dance circles. Except that I don’t really dance… But you have to be a dancer to be able to do what I do,” explains Dulcinée Langfelder.


Yes, she likes mixing genres. She has always deliberately practiced the art of artistic interbreeding. For her, culture is regenerated and oxygenated by multiplying the points of contact between various variables. “I wanted to explore, from the beginning, the integration of various cultures, new technologies. Life is like a diamond after all: it has many faces. »

Of Sicilian origin on her mother’s side and Slovak on her father’s side, born in New York in the 1950s, Dulcinée Langfelder could no longer stand Nixon’s United States, the Vietnam War, lies, deceit. Early in the 1970s, she left. It will be Paris. “I was so ashamed of my country! In Europe, I said that I was Canadian… When I arrived in Quebec, later, I understood that it was not a good idea! I said then that I was New Yorker, to reconcile me a little with my origins. »

Why Quebec? “Oh, it wasn’t too far from New York, where my family lived. It was French-speaking, like in Paris. Which for me was important. And Quebec was also half-American. But above all, he was young! Very young. Which meant that in principle everything was possible. In Europe, the institutions were oppressive. Here, yes, everything was possible! We were not constantly caught in the yoke of institutions, of tradition. We invent. »

In Paris, she had met the founders of the Omnibus theatre, Jean Asselin and Denise Boulanger. “I didn’t come to settle in Montreal right away. I popped in to say hello to them. She had suffered a few rebuffs which hadn’t discouraged her from anything. The great Jacques Tati, for example, did not want a competition.

“At that time, I didn’t know what to do with my life… In Montreal, they told me they were waiting for me, that there was a show to put on! I was swept away… I stayed, caught in a sort of whirlwind that never stopped. And for forty years, here she is offering a unique amalgam between various universes that she has made her own and that she has tamed since childhood, in tragicomic forms crossed by innumerable influences.


One of his joys? The bridges launched from Montreal on the world. “Compared to New York, there were things here that I couldn’t have done there. If you’re on Broadway, for example, there are worlds that don’t intersect. In Montreal, you can meet people from all walks of life and work with them, she points out. “Here, the worlds intersect constantly. You just have to build something to your liking,” she says. So. To hear it, it’s quite simple.

“I am, by nature, multidisciplinary. Where does this come from? If you present me with a menu, I’d like to taste everything… The multidisciplinary side, we can say that we brought it into the world in Quebec, with Michel Lemieux, Robert Lepage and others. I remember that at the Edinburgh Festival, at one time, everyone was talking about Robert Lepage. We knew him. But no one knew who Stephen Harper was, the prime minister at the time…I think artists have a certain power that transcends borders. In a way, they have more than politicians. They have real influence. »

Victoria, the old lady in a wheelchair suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, created by Dulcinée Langfelder, has been performed in more than a hundred cities, in English, French and Spanish as well as in Mandarin. In 2009, the artist was unexpectedly invited to play her Victoria in Zimbabwe. Why invite him there, when both Robert Mugabe and cholera are rampant? “The festival organizer explained to me that Victoria gave courage, that we all needed it, that the message was universal. This play could make a difference in Zimbabwe, as elsewhere, because of that, he told me. I was shaken. »

And here she is agreeing to fly to Zimbabwe. “I bought a book dedicated to the dictator Robert Mugabe, in order to try to understand… Should I be afraid to walk around with this book where a photo of Mugabe was clearly visible? No, replied the bookseller. What power is always afraid of is not its representation, but what can germinate through the arts to undermine it. It is through the arts that we think about ourselves, that the dilemmas we all face appear, that we find courage, meaning. The bookseller was right. »

His piece Victoria was the subject of a film. The pandemic has delayed its deployment. “This film will be my legacy, I believe. My company produces it. It is not a capture of the performance on stage, but a film, with its language. We presented a version in Rouyn in March. The real launch remains to be done. It will be this year, she hopes.

“I have always let myself be guided by what enchanted me. » For the 400e birthday of Cervantes, the author of Don Quixote, Dulcinea Langfelder had invested the character of Dulcinea del Toboso, this imaginary woman about whom the spirit of the wandering knight is transported without her ever really appearing in this immense fresco without equal. “My name is already Dulcinea. It was a project made for me! I threw myself into the time of Cervantes, into the history of women, of religion, of all that women had to endure in his name, but also because of old age, disappointments, love … »

She is in the process of reassembling her first piece, Vicious circle. “I am 67 years old. I was diagnosed with cancer. I have the feeling that this will be my last piece, my last contribution. »

The big plastic hoop that accompanied her for years, she finds it to somehow close the loop. “It was Paul Buissonneau who gave me this hoop. He collected everything! In his garage, he had this plastic hoop whose diameter corresponded exactly to my height. It has become something very personal, a sort of talisman. There, I go up the room with a circus artist. I see her again with her. The hoop has something imposing and soft at the same time. I used it so much to make people sing, laugh, dance! The circle remains for me a symbol of inclusion. »

His happiness ? “Several artists tell me that I have inspired them, if only by my freedom, by the idea that I have always put forward: our right to do things differently. In any case, I feel like I’ve done more, much more than I hoped to do when I was twenty. »

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