Article in Solares Hill, Soundings by Mark Howell
A new DVD, “Dominique’s Circus Cats,” is now available at catmankeywest.com.
It’s been 12 years since Sunset performer Dominique LeFort and his cats have appeared in a movie. Now Cossette, Chopin, George and Mandarine star in a video directed by Jenifer Strachan of Martha’s Vineyard.
She shot 50 hours of video over a 15-month period to produce a remarkable work that brings Dominique’s cat show to a place never quite seen before.
“I purchased the camera myself,” explained Dominique, “and I told Jenifer, ‘It is you — keep it on your body as you move … and move like a Gregorian chant, or like a tango.’ It was not like how other people do TV!”
With the camera attached to her waist, Strachan videoed a story without a storyline.“Originally I thought we’d have a clear shot of a show all the way through, ”she revealed to Soundings. “But things kept coming up and I soon realized that was the nature of the show. Just like there was interference all the time with the sound, which we also kept in. There’s no overlaid audio track, the sound is true to each clip.”
The result is a show of shows, sometimes frenetic, sometimes smooth, not unlike each evening’s performance itself. The first person Jenifer showed it to was a 5-year-old girl and the first thing she said next day was, “Can I see the cat movie again?”
A phenomenal job of editing by both Dominique and his videographer, “Dominique’s Circus Cats” is also revealingcinema vérité that gives insight into the technique by which Dominique manages to herd children as well as cats — which is to say he has an uncommon ability to push spaghetti.
Dominique came to the United States in 1967. Originally from Brittany, the oldest of seven brothers and sisters, he grew up in Paris and spent 15 years as a professional clown. A resident of Old Town Key West since 1984, he and his sunset show brought in enough money to send his daughter, Vanessa, now 38, to UCLA.
Jenifer began coming to Key West 12 years ago and then once a month as the video got under way. Back in Massachusetts she’s a mosaic artist using pieces of crockery in a practice known aspique assiette (literally “stolen from plates”). She’s also a photographer, artistic sketcher and a former ballet dancer. She’s just back from France, where she and Dominique visited the cat man’s mom on her 90th birthday.
“We showed her the movie and she smiled throughout,” said Jenifer.“That makes it all worthwhile.”
Catman's Reply to Mark Howell: