A Dancing on the Edge presentation. At the Firehall Arts Centre on Thursday, July 14. Continues July 16
Leave it to the 605 Collective to blast a shot of fresh air into the proceedings at Dancing on the Edge. If Inheritor EP, an excerpt from the forthcoming full-length Inheritor Album, is any indication, the city’s hottest young troupe have been busy little mixmasters, sampling urban and contemporary forms and playing with rhythms like never before. The language they’re inventing is more hip, young, and now-feeling than almost anything else out there at the moment.
At the Edge 6 mixed program at Dancing on the Edge, the work-in-progress’s third movement found the crack five-member team—codirectors Lisa Gelley, Shay Kuebler, and Josh Martin along with Justine Chambers and David Raymond—pulsing, hunched over, in a zombie groove to deep thudding club beats. Occasionally one would break out to riff in a kind of warped, expressionistic version of a B-boy battle while the others stared on, stupefied.
The other two sections on show were more melancholy but full of innovative imagery: Martin jerking and sliding around while the others rolled at his feet, following him; Martin hoisting all four stagemates and dragging them across the floor; or the entire crew on their feet, swaying back and forth like krill caught in a riptide. There are hints of breaking and locking, but only in the slightest way: this is contemporary dance exploded out of urban forms. Inheritor is still in the experimental stage—it needs tightening and polish—but it’s one to watch when it debuts in 2012 with six dancers.
Elsewhere on the program, KasheDance’s Kevin A. Ormsby literally and figuratively stripped away the strictures of assimilation. When he first appeared in Ke-ashe (Interludes within), he was walking around in office wear and sporting a laptop case—but just couldn’t keep himself from flailing out his hands and limbs in dance. In later sections, he communed with his innate African rhythms, those ancient cultural physical languages that fight to come out—and doffed the clothes suffocating them. (The Southern-U.S. tourist seated behind me got quite an eyeful for his first experience in contemporary dance.)
Jason Stroh’s bang/crunch was equally dynamic but more abstract—an emotionally fraught study in tension and release. The deeply expressive Hilary Maxwell lay lifelessly on-stage, then flickered to life as if electricity was charging through her veins. At first she took command of her own form, but eventually struggled to control the frenzy of her movement.
Overall, though, it was difficult for anything to feel quite as new or relevant on the program as 605’s deconstructed, wildly looping experiments—dance that bashes and throws itself toward that Edge.