OURO is a new contemporary-meets-street dance collective in town. The group of six formed in the fall of 2014 and will be presenting its first full-length production, PACE + Kaleido, this week, Thursday to Sunday (May 5-8) at Studio 1398 (1398 Cartwright Street, Granville Island).
PACE + Kaleido features new work by well-known Montreal duo Elon Höglund and Emmanuelle Lê Phan of Tentacle Tribe, and by the collective itself, mentored by local choreographer Amber Funk-Barton.
Vancouver can count on seeing more from this energetic new group and their fusion of hip-hop, breaking, popping, b-boying, waacking, and contemporary dance. With this in mind, the Straight asked each member about beginnings, training, and collective creation.
Born: "Vancouver, Vancouver, Vancouver"
Training: "Started at seven; ballet, waacking, all street styles, ballroom and partner dancing."
Collective contribution: "Partner dance-hustle and waacking concepts. I was a part of the creative process in the early stages of PACE, and became an outside eye once the piece came together.”
Why Vancouver: "The dance community is quite small and open to cross training in different styles—it is a pretty open minded environment which is perfect for creating new material and developing your own style."
Also involved in: "Growing partner dance-hustle in the street dance community, growing the waacking community in Vancouver, yoga, painting."
Antonio Somera Jr
Born: "Manila, Philippines, and came to Vancouver when I was three years-old."
Training: "I began at a community studio in Surrey called Praise TEAM, doing hip-hop, tap, and jazz competitions. I further pursued dance at SFU, and graduated with a BFA in contemporary dance in 2013. Now I train in contemporary forms such as contact improvisation and mind-body somatics, while investing in waacking."
Collective contribution: "I bring contemporary fluidity to movements and concepts. Partner work and human chemistry is something I strive for. My waacking also compliments the high performance energy that the other members have."
Why Vancouver: "Vancouver is a melting pot of diverse cultures. Each member of the collective comes from different cultures, ethnically and aesthetically. Despite the differences, we managed to find a passion within dance and each other."
Also involved in: "I'm part of another emerging troupe, MAYCE collective. I'm also a freelance artist, working for local and international choreographers and artists. I'm an active participant in the street dance community and am part of the all-waacking group, Konichiwaack."
Born: "Malta [between Sicily and the North African coast]. Grew up in Vancouver since age six and call it home."
Training deets: "I started on my own and am self taught in hip-hop. I started going to dance school as a teenager, training in jazz, lyrical, and musical theatre. I've continued in street training in Vancouver, Los Angeles, and London in locking and hip-hop mainly, as well as recently starting contemporary training."
Collective contribution: "I do the admin work for the collective and keep us organized. As for choreography, more grooving and hip-hop-based movement for this show."
Why Vancouver: "We are part of various dance communities but also cultural communities in Vancouver, making for a diverse audience following."
Also involved in: "I work as a nutritionist, dance teacher, choreographer, and with various outreach programs."
Born: "Kumamoto, Japan. Now based in Vancouver."
Training deets: "I began studying ballet at the age of six. Moved to Vancouver at 18, kept studying ballet before switching to jazz , hip-hop, and more commercial dance after. The past few years I've been more passionate in contemporary and mixing all styles of dance."
Collective contribution: "Being Japanese and coming from strict society, I really think about time and expression of it."
Why Vancouver: "We always get influenced by nature, what's around and going on in a community and our life. Being influenced by location of a photograph, etc."
Born: "Vancouver. Grew up East Side Vancouver, home is West Side Vancouver."
Training deets: "Largely self-taught in breaking, beginning in 2002. Continued that until now. Last few years have been dabbling in popping, waacking, and house."
Collective contribution: "Difficult to say because everyone contributes evenly. I would say that me and Mark definitely bring a heavy breaking influence and many ground-based movements. As far as the show, I have been very interested in questioning our way of life in the modern world since my brother passed away. Priorities in life. Feelings of confinement and freedom in urban settings."
Why Vancouver: "Vancouver has a very laid-back attitude and the street dance scene is very open to mixing of styles, so that had a big influence on the show and the collective."
Also involved in: "The breaking crew Filthee Feet based out of Vancouver and Victoria, which is actually in its 15th year of existence and still going strong."
Born: "I was born in Vancouver, grew up in Burnaby, and am currently living in Vancouver."
Training deets: "I began training, just mainly interested in movement in 2001. I was initially inspired by Kung Fu films and had also been exposed to breaking, mainly on MuchMusic in various music videos and seeing the Toronto scene. So, from then on I trained mainly in breaking and acrobatics. In the last five years I’ve been opening up my understanding in movement through collaboration with other artists, and starting to learn other styles such as funk styles."
Collective contribution: "I’ve always had a very creative and sometime chaotic mind, this has been key in developing my own style and approach to dance. I feel I bring that sort of creativity that makes me who I am, as well as my own genuine energy. This is something I feel we all bring to the collective in our own ways."
Why Vancouver: "Vancouver has a lot of rich history in different disciplines of dance, as well as in the respective communities. As much as we all have developed and branched off in our own ways, we wouldn’t be where we are without that which has come before us. Another aspect is definitely the way of life here, from the hectic pace we sometimes feel in the city, to the equanimity felt out in nature."
Also involved in: "I’m also currently involved in teaching here and there. Most of my time has been dedicated to school this year. I’m taking graphic design, which has become a new passion for me."