A Martha Carter production. A Dance Allsorts presentation.
At the Scotiabank Dance Centre on Thursday, March 4. No remaining performances.
Vancouver could use more shows like Interactive Digital Urban Ballet. Montreal choreographer Martha Carter transformed the Scotiabank Dance Centre into a pulsing nightclub, her dancers wowing with the kind of hip-hop heavy movement that's more at home on L.A. streets than in local theatres. iDUB even had some viewers connecting with their inner B-girl or B-boy.
Stripped of seats save for a couple of couches and empty except for three hanging screens, the cavernous space came complete with a security guard and a woman on roller skates selling drink tickets. The three-part show resembled a rave with its high-tech visuals and addictive rhythms. The energy was so contagious that by the end of the night, audience members were grooving to the live music themselves. Besides its unconventional approach, what made iDUB so cool was that it exposed styles like break dancing and funk to audiences that might otherwise have little access to such forms.
In the first portion, artists took turns atop a large wooden block, where they interacted with Jamie Griffiths and Robb Lovell's mind-blowing visuals. The two tech wizards sat at a long table behind several Apple computers, operating audio-responsive software and keyboard-driven graphics. The dancers' movements triggered the shifting, smudging, and distortion of designs--waterfalls of colour and Spirograph-like lines--that were projected onto the overhead screens. It was as if the performers and patterns were partnering in noncontact improvisation. Accompanying the wild interaction were composer Leonard J. Paul, the show's musical director, whose electronic score throbbed with irresistible intensity, and DJ Jacob Cino, who provided penetrating vocals.
The action in the second segment moved throughout the venue, spotlights signalling where audiences were to shift their attention. Sometimes, the performers jammed in small circles: cheering each other on, they took turns showing their stuff in the centre. Some held spectacular freezes, supporting their body weight with their arms while executing fancy leg work. The talent on offer impressed. Andrea Keevil's classical training was obvious as she funkified clean lines; Tal Iozef's stellar popping and locking were stylish and smooth; Eric Malapad had a hoot with his flamenco-infused steps; Jhaymee Hizon stunned with his head, back, and butt spins; and Josh Martin and Katy Harris-McLeod proved to be kinetic powerhouses.
Hip-hop is usually flashed in videos and movies, but it's rare to find it in a theatre setting. Seeing it up close was riveting, and witnessing viewers slide to the music afterward was just as fun. The vibe was positive and refreshing, the energy contagious and exciting. Here's hoping Carter remounts iDUB soon.