Choreography by Victor Quijada; Directed by Marc Brunipp
Off Off Broadway, Dance
Ran through 3.22.14
Schimmel Center for the Arts, Pace University, 3 Spruce Street
by Jane Sato on 3.24.14
RUBBERBANDANCE Group in Empirical Quotient. Photo by Christopher Duggan.
BOTTOM LINE: Mind-blowingly beautiful and surprisingly subtle. If breakdancing and William Forsythe's contemporary dance technique had a love child, this would be it.
There is no curtain at the Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts and upon entering the theater the dancers are seen warming up onstage. The dancers huddle into a group while the director of the theater introduces them. Thus commences the cool and casual opening to RUBBERBANDance Group’s 10th Anniversary Season in NYC. They move apart gently as if floating from bubbles in outer space onto the stage. Over the next 70 minutes, the dancers flow from a zen like state of gentle resistance to violently interrupting each other.
A voice shouts from the back giving cues such as “Lights out on the house!” and "Watch for her arm. " It is a humorous homage to the crew that happens throughout the show. This move is smart and fun. The composer, Jasper Gahunia remixes operatic vocals and base to form a classically uprooted score.
The choreographer, Victor Quijada, uses a style that is a fusion of breakdancing, contemporary dance, circus arts and classical ballet. It transcends any of those techniques and is his truly unique vision. His dancers, all possessing incredible skill, execute “tricks and stunts in breakdancing” replacing the typical bboy aggression with great ease and artistry. In this performance, the moment the audience is supposed to pause and say “Wow” happens not during the tricks but in the subtleties. Two men dance together with the tenacity of two bulls and their rough and tumble duet ends with them staring into the wing forming a bull with their four legs.
All six dancers have particularly beautiful solo moments and movement qualities. Quijada’s strength in this work is his partnering that ebbs and flows from one person to another without any apparent struggle. The dancers weave and thread their bodies in seemingly impossible ways. The holding of the foot and passing the leg through is a commonly seen trait of breakdancing, but with the combination of classical line and contortion, this stylistically supports his new vocabulary. It was refreshing to see the stunningly beautiful and awkward partnering phrases trail off into an emotional charged pose. One especially tender moment happens in a duet with Katherine Cowie and Zachary Tang. He reaches for her face and she resists not because she doesn’t care, but it doesn’t lead to the results she wants. They make a sexy and stellar pair.
RUBBERBANDance Group is showing work that is physically impressive and poetic, but not gimmicky. That is no small feat in the attention deficit disorder culture that we live in and to see something that is cutting edge and relaxing is rare. Go see them already.
(Empirical Quotient played at the Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts at Pace University, 3 Spruce Street, through March 22, 2014. Performances were Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30PM. Tickets were $35. For more information visit schimmel.pace.edu.)