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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Moves and Visions - Quidam & Rubberband Dance

This week we got to shame the pounds back into those holiday chocolate boxes by going to see two artistically and physically motivating pieces: RUBBERBANDance Group’s Loan Sharking and and Cirque du Soleil’s first visit to Kingston with Quidam. The sense of human possibilities that even occasional visits to these venues unleashes has to be worth every penny spent on them, and I think annual visits to both the Grand’s Dance Series and the event of your choice at KRock are well worth saving up for.

It was my first Grand dance event of the season, and a long-awaited one. Compared to many dance troupes, RUBBERBANDance Group’s performers seemed particularly young: a limber and nearly gymnastic team of lithe and healthy bodies where gender power was both downplayed and equally distributed. I don’t think anyone except the founder Victor Quijada was over 30. The dancers undulated in unison and threw their bodies utterly relentlessly through sequence after sequence of a fusion of hip-hop/locking inspired and body-contact style moves, performing on top of strong and playfully jarring lighting designs and soundscapes from Stravinsky, Brubeck and Jasper Gahunia, a former award-winning “battle DJ.” The total effect was curiously delightful, and the audience fell in love with them – although the troupe’s Achilles heel is also their signature. Their total reliance on the admittedly brilliant moves and an apparent disinterest in emotional engagement, story, or greatly varying emotional dynamics also kept me from feeling entirely engaged with them. Nonetheless, the movers themselves are inspiring and the sense of exploration from Quijada and his entire team (including the designers) is palpable. I’d definitely come back again to check out the virtuosity of performers like Emmanuelle Le Phan and to see how the energetic young company is proceeding.

On the other hand, I expected Cirque du Soleil to be stunning strange eye candy and little more – but went out of curiosity to see how it would play at the KRock Centre. As ever, the scrap of a storyline inserted (a young girl who is whisked away from her boring family to another Neverland-style dimension) is almost gratuitious, but it was an entry to an utterly wonderful world of strangely beautiful and extraordinary performers and delightful visions and yet seemed like tasting a meal of wonderful strange new fruit. I love being in awe of humanity – both in terms of accomplishment and vision – and Cirque again provided huge doses of each. I also loved that I became so caught up in the sense of dream they create that I nearly had to pinch myself to remember “holy crap –those are all real people up there!” In a continually digitally enhanced world, it’s more important all the time. Quidam, although a smaller scale than their tent shows, was even more charming than the last piece I saw (Corteo) – and the rope acrobats, an “Adam and Eve” pair of gymnasts who balanced neck-on-neck for one-legged stands and other feats, the finale acrobats, and four young Chinese yo-yo jugglers were particularly amazing. I’m going back to thinking that Cirque is a must-see every few years, at least – in spite of a misplaced generalization that they have veered into sheer commercialism. (It also continues to tickle me that Guy LaLiberte came out of the same mime school I did…and he still has a hand in it all. And all those fixed point/undulating locking moves… I’m just sayin’…) Ahem, back to the gym

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