On Monday in Montreal, dancer Susan Paulson will perform a dance piece set to Leonard Cohen’s song Famous Blue Raincoat, but she has been forced to perform it in silence because another Montreal dance company has just nabbed an exclusive deal to use Cohen’s music.
Last week Ballets Jazz de Montreal said it had signed a a five-year deal giving it exclusive rights to use the Canadian songwriter’s music in dance shows.
The company said its worldwide exclusive dance and circus art rights include Cohen’s name and image as well as his visual, musical, and literary works.
It is planning a “Cohen-inspired show” in December that “will be performed through a series of acts, evoking the cycles of life, the colours of the seasons and nature’s true elements” it announced.
The Toronto Star reported that the deal derailed plans for Paulson’s performance in a show called Legacy Project. Her dance piece was choreographed by Margie Gillis, whose 40 year career in dance is celebrated in the show.
“My first reaction was ‘this can’t be true, this doesn’t make sense,’” Gillis told The Canadian Press.
The Star reported that after debating “for about a minute” about whether to remove that segment from the show, Gillis asked Paulson to perform the piece in silence so that “the piece’s themes of loss and forgiveness shine through in the dancer’s movements”.
“As (Cohen) said, ‘there’s a crack in everything, that’s how where the light gets in,’” Gillis told The Star, “and that’s what we’re doing here”.