605 Collective mashes forms at Dancing on the Edge

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      Bringing a brazen physicality to Dancing on the Edge, the 605 Collective melds five individuals and countless styles

      Anything goes when it comes to divulging intimate details on-line. Whether it’s via social-networking sites or blogs, there’s apparently nothing too personal to be posted. We’re a culture obsessed with having a Web presence, and yet more people are waking up to the fact that so much sharing has its drawbacks. There’s the erosion of the very notion of a “private” life. And even though the Internet means people are in touch more than ever before, perhaps society has never been so disconnected.

      “Making a connection with someone through text messaging or Facebook can be so frustrating,” says Josh Martin, a member of the 605 Collective, one of Vancouver’s newest and hottest dance troupes, in a group interview at the Firehall Arts Centre.

      “Relationships are changing so much,” he adds. “We were just talking about it, and all these ideas and feelings and opinions came up: on-line voyeurism, where you’re looking at people without interacting with them; the line between personal and public, and how it’s blurring.

      “We wanted to take these ideas and add physicality to them, to the idea of throwing yourself into space, of blindly, carelessly chucking out your life story so openly. That idea of chucking yourself, literally, kept coming up.”

      If there’s any dance company that understands physicality, it’s the 605 Collective. Martin and fellow artists Shay Kuebler, Lisa Gelley, Sasha Kozak, and Maiko Miyauchi are all drawn to—and excel at—the kind of movement that’s powerful to the point of punishing.

      “It always comes from a physical place,” says Gelley, who’s also Martin’s partner off-stage. “We push ourselves as far as we can, then see what happens when we reach that point of exhaustion.”

      There’s more to 605 than kinetically brazen moves, though. With a breadth of genres to draw from, the artists weave everything from popping and locking to ballet into a hip hybrid.

      For proof of their diverse influences, look no further than the artists’ CVs.

      Kuebler has trained extensively in hip-hop, tap, jazz, and ballet. Martin has performed the clubby style of Martha Carter’s Marta Marta House of Pride and the martial arts–infused contemporary ballet of Wen Wei Wang. Kozak started out learning Ukrainian dance in his home province of Saskatchewan then went on to jazz, modern, and street jazz, among other forms. Gelley has studied urban dance as well as circus arts. And Miyauchi started ballet as a little girl in Japan, continued at the Goh Ballet Academy once she moved to Vancouver, then moved on to hip-hop.

      They came together in 2006 after Martin and Gelley moved into a live/work studio in East Vancouver’s Artist Resource Centre. (It was apartment 605, hence the troupe’s name.) The couple built a 450-square-foot dance floor in their 700-square-foot space, put up mirrors, and then invited their friends over.

      “We had just finished a yearlong stint of training in Europe,” Gelley says. “When we got back we felt the need to share, to touch base with all the people we’d worked with before. ”¦to exchange knowledge.”

      The pals literally bounced ideas off each other, coming up with a smooth fusion that represents all of them.

      “We wanted to integrate the way everyone moves and create something that’s ours, as opposed to just something that’s Lisa’s or Shay’s,” Martin says.

      Their style clearly resonates.

      With the backing of the Canada Council for the Arts, the 605 Collective is working on a new piece created by the Holy Body Tattoo’s Dana Gingras that will premiere in the fall.

      The collective scored a  two-week creation residency at Usine-C in Montreal earlier this year. As artists-in-residence at the Scotiabank Dance Centre, the group is building on the material it developed in Quebec to create Audible, its first full-length work, which premieres at the Dance Centre on July 16 and 18 as part of the Dancing on the Edge Festival.

      With a soundscape featuring tracks by such artists as Daedelus and Brian Crabtree, Audible looks at human connections in the digital age.

      It also shows how, within the collective’s unified voice, the artists never lose themselves.

      “As individuals, we have strong personalities,” Gelley explains. “It’s important to acknowledge that, although we can move together in unison, we also want to see people being themselves.”

      Kuebler nods, adding: “Someone once said we look like five different people on-stage, and we really want to be individuals on-stage and for our personalities to stand out.”