Sometimes life conspires against our most ardent wishes… Last night was my most anticipated night of the Canada Dance Festival… Halifax’s Lisa Phinney in the NAC Studio at 7pm followed by Vancouver’s 605 Collective in the Theatre at 8:30. I was really looking forward to seeing Phinney’s Analogy for Solid Bones again (Live Art Dance premiered this work a few years ago), and who wasn’t looking forward to 605’s full length sophomore effort?
So there we were, the whole family: my six-year old, Clara, looking forward to seeing her maman dance, Elise’s maman Chantal, en voyage avec nous to help take care of the kids, my buddy Scott, in from Montreal to catch some of the fest, and my beautiful baby Camille, firmly strapped onto my chest in the snuggly. This wasn’t going to be Camille’s first show – some of you will remember her rapt attention in Rebecca Lazier’s gutsy work, Coming Together/Attica – but alas, tonight things weren’t looking good. As soon as the she was strapped into the snuggly the hiccups started… as soon as the lights went to black the protest started… How was she to know that all maman’s absences, the reason papa has been her daily companion these past 4 months, were about this night tonight, this coming hour. Performances are live, never to be reproduced, and Sweet Life intervenes as it will. I’m bummed I missed the show but wouldn’t trade this for anything!
I heard the show went off well and many people approached me to tell me that Elise was absolutely stunning. I wish I could have seen it. If you did, and you’re reading this, please share your thoughts!
On to 605 Collective… I love these guys. Their work Audible closed Live Art’s season last year and they absolutely rocked it: Fun work full of humour with totally infectious ensemble work. Everyone wants to see where they will go next… Enter Inheritor Album, their brand new full length work that received its World Premiere Friday night.
It was amazing to see (this relatively) young company on the NAC Theatre stage, and 605 deserves big props for thoroughly taking advantage of its size (stage) & technical capacity. So nice to see how access to resources can translate into such superb production values. Presented almost as a series of vignettes – let’s call them songs – Inheritor Album begins in dynamic fashion with the aforementioned exquisite ensemble work (they were 6) that has earned 605 Collective so much attention. Their super-grounded, push-pull, urban dance style is at its best here: the connection between dancers is thoroughly exhilarating to watch and we realise they can’t do this alone – the whole group is required to make it work. Perhaps this comes from the street dance cypher, where everyone feeds off the circle’s energy to push each other to new heights. But where street battling often focuses on individual competition, 605 uses this energy to elevate the whole, and this is perhaps one of the strongest underlying messages in this work: we advance collectively or we don’t advance.
This was show #8 for me (well, number seven I guess) and an overall festival theme began taking form in my mind while watching: we live in turbulent times! So many of the works were built on ideas of stress or tension or being adrift in a sea of anonymity and Inheritor Album is no different. The lighting was on the dark side, at least in a can’t-see-their-faces kind of way, leading a simultaneous deconstruction of the individual and construction of the clan. There are some truly striking moments in this 65 minute work, but the youth of their creative collective gets revealed as the show progresses. Maybe I’m being unfair – this crew IS truly mesmerizing at times – and am a prisoner of the high expectations I carried into the show. But… take away the wonderful production values, strip away that great big stage and I think weaknesses in the overall choreographic structure would become more apparent. Is this something that time and distance can resolve? I think so. World premieres are difficult but they give artists great ideas about how to move forward. The 605 Collective has many people in their corner and I have every confidence they are like the proverbial big cheese or fine wine: with the passing of time they’re only going to get better!