Continuing its reputation as Montreal's sampler box of contemporary dance, Festival Quartiers Danses presented two quite disparate works tightly buttressed up against each other on Sunday.

Maya Orchin's <i>Transport Fade</i> © Marie Letkowski
Maya Orchin's Transport Fade
© Marie Letkowski
The first, Transport Fade, is ostensibly based on the idea of magical realism and “how, as a society, we use fantastic elements as an escape technique to get out of present situations.”

The work begins with two spotlights; one trained on dancer Katie Stehura and the other cinched around her cohorts Michael Abbatiello, Joshua Stansbury and Maya Orchin (also the choreographer of the piece). As Transport Fade gets going, we see the four dancers splitting into various groupings – solos, duos, trios – and the individual qualities of the dancers become more evident.

The MVPs of Transport Fade were Maya Orchin herself (a willowy brunette with a wonderfully sharp focus and leanness of movement) and Joshua Stansbury (who looks like he stepped straight off some Ivy-league rowing team). Both had immaculate technique and a great deal of commitment to the piece.

Overall it was a decent piece of choreography but, in all honesty, it was a bit pedestrian; nothing you couldn't see at a graduate show in any major city in the world; in and out of the floor, chunks of grabby partnering, some gestural hand movement and hair flicking. The choreography was fine (if a little underwhelming) but the performance of it felt underrehearsed in parts and lacking in polish.

Transport Fade was followed by Barouf, a quirky little amuse-bouche about the tyrannies of communication in the modern era.

Morgane Le Tiec's <i>Barouf</i> © Jeremy Coachman
Morgane Le Tiec's Barouf
© Jeremy Coachman
The choreography began with Katherine Ng and Kiera Hill doing the upside down Exorcist-crawl out from the stage right wings. The two dancers morphed themselves into lithe gangly creatures, their mobile spines alien in the stripped-bare stage. More dancers entered, hopping about in pulled up socks, the choreography oscillating between absolute silliness and something quite deep and horrifying. There was an angularity of movement throughout Barouf that was really unexpected and pleasing.

The piece sits neatly in the dance-theatre category; dancer Ashley Werhun vomits up a phone cord, makes hysterical talky hands and worships a giant glowing iPhone as it swings disembodied through the space. Cai Glover's slapstick physical tragicomedy routine called to mind Les Ballets C de la B's Ross McCormack. There were some parts of Barouf in which the slapstick worked perhaps less well – there was a section of caressing that aforementioned giant iPhone that, for me, seemed too literal and lost momentum – but all in all, Barouf's dancers were uniformly fantastic, and the costumes worked well. Morgane Le Tiec's choreography really had a distinctive voice that was simultaneously absurd and beautiful.  I look forward to seeing more from her.