Back to basics: choreographer-dancer Victor Quijada presents his new piece "Gravity of Center"
Every year, I take in a wave of dance shows and I must say it’s both extremely powerful and refreshing to be captivated by just plain old dance on a barren stage. No visuals, no props, no set, no kooky costumes; just dancers moving in space.
Choreographer-dancer Victor Quijada was feeling that vibe for his new creation Gravity of Center. The bare-bones dance work premieres this month at the Cinquième Salle, where Quijada and his RUBBERBANDance Group’s co-artistic director Anne Plamondon have been resident artists since 2007.
“The last two pieces I presented at Place des Arts had multimedia aspects to them. They had videos, projections and set pieces,” says Quijada during a rehearsal break. “I think I wanted to get back to just dance to see what I could say, what I could do and what I could accomplish through physicality. It’s a return to movement and letting movement do the talking.”
Through Gravity of Center, Quijada wanted to explore thoughts he had after the 2008 economic crisis in the States. “Ideas of scarcity came to mind about how humans behave in those dire situations and how, under such circumstances, we become refugees. We become nomadic because of scarcity of food and resources.”
If you’ve ever seen Quijada perform, you’ll immediately recognize his trademark movement which has evolved through his somewhat unusual dance training – beginning on the streets of L.A. and eventually landing him a spot at Les Grands Ballets Canadiens.
Gravity of Center continues to showcase his company’s signature blend of hip hop, ballet and contemporary dance while exploring the idea of group mentality. “This piece is about a pack of wild dogs that are together and are, in some way, in conflict with their individual pursuits while also being tied down to a group for basic survival and safety.” Quijada’s choreographic pack includes himself, Plamondon and dancers Emmanuelle Le Phan and Elon Höglund. “I really wanted to try and get back to a more animalistic, raw place with this piece,” he concludes.
For Gravity of Center he continues his collaboration with Jasper Gahunia (aka DJ LilJaz), who incidentally is a classically trained pianist. “What we’ve been working on is sampling classical music and creating compositions out of that using turntablist techniques like scratching and cutting, beat juggling, sampling and a hip hop production approach.” Quijada explains the creative duo click because of their backgrounds. “He started in classical, and went very, very far away from it. And my trajectory began with hip hop culture and then went towards classical to finally start RUBBERBANDance Group so that I could mix the two,” he says. “What he is producing for the creation is an auditory parallel to what I am offering visually and what the company is doing physically.”