New York's WHITE WAVE dancers put a positive spin on human relationships in Young Soon Kim's iyouuswe

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      A WHITE WAVE Young Soon Kim Dance Company production, presented by the Vancouver International Dance Festival. At the Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre on Thursday, March 15. Continues Friday and Saturday (March 16 and 17)

      If Brooklyn-based choreographer Young Soon Kim’s iyouuswe (“I-you-us-we”) is a journey that challenges viewers to examine who we are and how we relate to one another, then there’s hope for humanity yet.

      This beautifully crafted piece for nine dancers may present moments of subtle tension, but it pulses most profoundly with harmony.

      Even when the performers are moving individually or idiosyncratically, they’re in sync with each other. In duets, trios, and other ever-shifting configurations, things unfurl organically; there’s a natural, poetic rhythm here that hums beneath, as if to imply things are unfolding as they should—whether it’s within a couple or the universe itself.

      The stage is bare save for nine modern white dining-room chairs with metal frames. These seats are used alternately as stepping stones, walls, play structures, stages, and places for stargazing.

      So many elements combine to make this 65-minute piece flow smoothly. Most crucial is fresh choreographic phrasing, which Kim says in her program notes she developed in collaboration with the dancers over a period of 18 months. Although it revolves around relationships—whether it’s romance, us versus them, or self-love—iyouuswe never devolves into cliché.

      There are nine vignettes, which morph from one to the next as seamlessly as colours in the sky blend together at dusk. The dancers, five men and four women, possess finely honed technical skills. They execute breathtaking lifts that wouldn’t look out of place in a gold-medal routine by ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.

      Sometimes, the dancers’ kinetic playfulness brings to mind stop-motion filmmaking; elsewhere, there are delicate balancing acts—literally. In one, a dancer hinges at his hips to form a right angle while another lies on her back atop his, her limbs slowly undulating as if underwater.

      The score consists of original music by Ki Young spliced with excerpts from other musicians, including Jim Perkins; it ranges from soulful strings to energizing dance house.

      Iyouuswe also has some surprises; suffice it to say they’ll make you look at things from a different perspective. We think you’ll like what you see.