Behind the Scenes with RUBBERBANDance

RUBBERBANDance Group is known for its creative risk-taking, innovative choreography, and melding of technical expertise and dance prowess with youth inspired movements like hip-hop. The result is a hybrid of physical expression, marrying discipline and tradition, with the sensibility of the street. Their new work, Empirical Quotient, was co-commissioned by Guelph Dance and will be presented on Friday, March 28 at 8pm at the River Run Centre.

Victor Quijada, Co-Artistic Director and Choreographer of RUBBERBANDance Group, talks with us today about how his creative process has evolved over time and what Guelph audiences can expect.

Victor: The commission by the CanDance Network and our other creative partners has been a wonderful opportunity – first, to have the funding, and second to have tour dates booked before the piece even premiered. It has been incredibly validating for my work and my vision to be endorsed in this way, especially because they gave me a blank slate to work with, rather than having their own ideas in mind for the final product. The piece itself continues to grow and develop as we are on tour.

This is the first time I will not be dancing in my own piece, as I have been able to communicate my message to the 6 dancers, and I do not feel the need to be on stage with them. This has largely been due to the resources that the commission has provided, including a creation residency at the Grand Theatre in Kingston.

Photos of Empirical Quotient by Michael Slobodian.
Victor: I used to be very interested in the extremes of my training background – classical and street styles – and what happens when these exist in the same space. I am now exploring the more subtle elements of that convergence. I have developed a technique to support the style that I am creating. My dancers have varied backgrounds – some with contemporary, some that come from street styles, and some with circus training – but they all need to train in the RUBBERBAND Method in order to execute the vocabulary.

While the RUBBERBAND Method pulls from other contemporary techniques, it is not verbatim. We focus on connecting with the floor through the feet and connecting with the other people in the room. I want to get the dancers out of the vertical axis, and more into the horizontal, diagonal, or even inverted, so that they can flow through these fluidly. This comes from the hip hop cypher where there is no front and everything is performed in a closed circle. It is hard to put our signature style into words, you will just have to come see the show and let the work speak for itself!

Photos of the RUBBERBAND Method by Michael Slobodian.
Victor: The shows for the young audiences throughout the week will be a combination lecture and demo. They will see sections from the full-length piece but there will also be interactive elements where we invite some kids up on stage. Sharing a bit of the RUBBERBAND Method with them will help them understand how we arrived at the works.

The audiences will witness the ways that the dance actors interact with each other, and the moments of discovery and exchange that take place. We commissioned music compositions from Jasper Gahunia, who trained at the Royal Conservatory of Music and has since become a DJ, so he is kind of the musical version of me. There is a lot of work behind what we are offering, and we can’t wait to keep the momentum going.

Co-presented by the River Run Centre, Empirical Quotient is a production of RUBBERBANDance Group and a co-production of The CanDance Network Creation Fund, Danse Danse, Grand Theatre Kingston, Guelph Dance, Le Theatre Hector-Charland, and la Société de la Place des Arts, with the kind collaboration of the Segal Centre for Performing Arts.
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