Dancing on the Edge's Inheritor Album is awesomely impressive
By the 605 Collective. A Dancing on the Edge production. At the Vancouver Playhouse on Saturday, July 7. No remaining performances
An hourlong meditation on “inheritance and succession”, the 605 Collective’s latest blockbuster is so fast-paced and so abstract that it would take multiple viewings for its themes to fully emerge. Alas, its run is over now, after only two performances—but if the Collective brought it back, I’m sure many in Saturday’s audience would go again. It’s that good.
Good enough, at least on its final night, to elicit three curtain calls from a standing and enthusiastic crowd. Good enough that the floor work of this young and hyperactive troupe had many calling it the best they’d ever seen. And good enough that it deserves further polishing, as well as further performances.
Make no mistake: Inheritor Album is not perfect. But for most of its 60 minutes, it is awesomely impressive.
Let’s get the carping over with. True to its title, Inheritor Album is a collection of short solos and duos interspersed with ensemble work—a format that makes for a diverse program, with the side benefit of allowing most of the troupe to rest after passages of hyperkinetic sextet romping. Sometimes, though, the performers not taking a breather seemed unfocused in their solos, looking slightly lost on the big Playhouse stage. A contact-improv duet between Josh Martin and David Raymond, the former guiding and supporting the latter with a hand on his back, went on too long—especially as it eventually morphed into a full-ensemble version of the same routine. (To be fair, the cast delivered some startling physical pictures during this second section, making alien tentacles out of their overlapped limbs or clumping together like some newly discovered creature from the ocean floor.)
Most disappointingly, the much-hyped collaboration with California-based filmmaker and animator Miwa Matreyek was not the breakthrough it might have been. Matreyek’s strongest moment—a rippling montage of outstretched arms, abstract squiggles, and collapsing office towers—was projected onto an empty stage. Many of her computer-based design schemes could have been produced through the astute use of conventional lighting technology. Again, her work was fine—but not especially innovative or unconventional.
These complaints are minor, though, next to the praise the 605 Collective deserves for continuing to build on its early repertoire of modern- and break-dance-derived gestures. On the floor, its dancers have a slithery physicality that’s weirdly unsettling; vertebrates aren’t supposed to move like that. And technical director Jason Dubois deserves credit for lighting some of the upright sequences so that the dancers’ feet are in shadow: without visible evidence of the musculature that’s keeping them aloft, they seem uncannily limber, almost weightless.
Thanks to the relentless pace and flock-of-birds synchronicity of the ensemble passages, Inheritor Album more than balanced its occasional longueurs with thrills. Martin and Shay Kuebler continue to be the 605 Collective’s stars—Kuebler, in particular, moves with the speed and incandescence of a meteor—but the company’s newest member, Laura Avery, brings an equally assured physicality to the stage. That’s not to fault Raymond, Lisa Gelley, and Justine Chambers, though: together with their peers, they help make the 605 Collective one of the most exciting ensembles in what’s likely Vancouver’s strongest-ever dance community. Despite the criticisms, consider this a rave.