Sheep thrills: How a Canadian dance troupe went viral by going seriously method as barnyard animals

Believe ewe me, the performers in Les Moutons are raising the baaaaaaar.

Believe ewe me, the performers in Les Moutons are raising the baaaaaaar

Les Moutons. (CBC Arts)

In 2017, a cell phone video of a flock of humans acting as sheep — in full sheep costumes and in a makeshift sheep pen doing regular sheep things — went viral on Facebook. The video racked up over 11 million views before it was taken down. However, luckily for us all, what was documented in the video is a performance of "Les Moutons" (translation: the sheep), and it happens all the time, all over the world.

"Les Moutons" and its companion piece "Transhumance" are performances by Toronto-based CORPUS dance company, who are known for their comedic and surreal choreography. The performance was choreographed and directed by Sylvie Bouchard and David Danzon in 2003, and can take place outdoors in just about any space imaginable. CORPUS describes "Les Moutons" as a "wordless live installation" that brings audiences through "a carefully studied, surrealistic overview of sheep behaviour." When watching a performance of "Les Moutons," you can expect to see a flock of "sheep" going through various sheep activities that includes being shepherded, being sheared, being milked and even mating.

Watch the video:

Les Moutons

4 years ago
Duration 4:06
An inside look at CORPUS dance company's wildly successful performance, "Les Moutons", that gives audiences a somewhat surreal glimpse into the life of sheep.

The performance has become a huge success for CORPUS since its inception in 2003 — and it's hard to explain why, exactly. There is something so fascinating about watching actors and dancers who have rigorously studied sheep behaviour perform it before your eyes and inviting audience interaction with the flock. According to Danzon, "Les Moutons" has been performed by CORPUS 700 times in about 30 countries including Spain, China, Australia and Israel, to name a few.

Of course, we here at CBC Arts were very curious about this viral performance and the actors' unwavering commitment to their respective sheep (and in one case — spoiler — wolf) roles, so we got ahold of footage from "Les Moutons" from around the world, and ventured to a performance at the Sheep and Wool festival in Rhinebeck, New York.

In the above video, we hear from David Danzon and performers Indrit Kasapi and Jolyan Langlois who share what it takes to perform in "Les Moutons" and why audiences around the world have fallen in love with with this surreal flock of sheep.

Les Moutons. (CBC Arts)

Interviews filmed by Asmi Chandola. Rhinebeck, NY footage filmed by Tyler Peck. Les Moutons courtesy footage filmed by Harry Cepka and Isorine Marc.

Watch CBC Arts: Exhibitionists on Friday nights at 11:30pm (12am NT) and Sundays at 3:30pm (4pm NT) on CBC Television.


Mercedes Grundy has been producing videos for CBC Arts and Exhibitionists since 2015. She is a unabashed Leonardo DiCaprio enthusiast with an educational background in photography, and produces film and theatre when not busy here at the CBC. And while her love for the arts does not discriminate, she openly acknowledges she is a horrible dancer.


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