The 7 Fingers welcomes HUB Montréal in their new home
It may have been homeless for some time, but The 7 Fingers have now settled into their new home, the old Ekers brewery in the heart of the Quartier des spectacles, where they’ll be welcoming HUB Montréal from November 18 to 21. Conversation about this 1897 building that the Montreal collective has beautifully redone.
Seven floors. 60,000 square feet. Two big studios with 30-foor ceilings. We’re a long way from the time when the troupe made us come in through the door of their refrigerator, in 2002.
“The 7 Fingers house is something new for us,” says Alexandre Teodoresco, who heads the 7 Fingers creation and production center. “Seventeen years ago, this collective of former Cirque du Soleil artists wanted to make a more human type of circus, closer to the spectator. After touring in a lot of cities, after mounting 25 productions and after giving thousands of performances, the company succeeded in building its creation center thanks to the support of the federal, provincial and municipal governments. Discussions went on for almost seven years, and then a few years of renovations were required before it could finally open in July 2018.”
On Boulevard Saint-Laurent, we recognize the façade as one belonging to another establishment that marked the cultural landscape of Montréal.
“It’s the old Just for Laughs Museum that’s been completely transformed,” continues the director. “We preserved the historical façade of the brewery and the beams, which date from the 19th century. People won’t recognize the interior. The building is fabulous, heritage, but also modern in a retro industrial style.
“In an immense space that no longer had a roof, we set up two enormous dance and show-creation studios, but also a gym where artists can train, and wonderful offices. Upstairs there are also two large terraces. One looks out over southeast Montréal, while the other, which we added, faces in the direction of downtown and Mount Royal.
“There’s also this space with the very poetic name of Orangerie. More of a lengthwise space, it’s less intimidating than the big studios and also provides an unbroken view over the city.
“What’s good about our building is that there are a lot of spaces where we can perform. Which makes it possible to have a complex programming on more than one floor and accommodate 2,000 people.”
To create their universe, The 7 Fingers drew on theater, music and circus arts as well as technology. Think of Temporel with the Pilon Lemieux 4D Art holograms in 2018. There’s a sort of connection with HUB Montréal’s mission of showcasing Montréal-based creativity.
“It spoke to us in terms of theme,” he feels. “HUB Montréal is focused on digital creativity, and with us, it’s rather a human creativity. Even though we incorporate a lot of technology, the human element remains at the heart of our creations. We told ourselves that a performance art would lend the event a slightly different point of view.”
Hub Montréal will occupy The 7 Fingers Studios from November 18 to 21, 2019, on Saint-Laurent Boulevard near Sherbrooke Street.
The interview was edited for the sake of conciseness.
-interview by Pascale Lévesque-