605 Collective's Inheritor Album, on at the Dance Centre in a co-presentation with the PuSh Festival through tomorrow, opens with a stunning movement image. As six dancers begin running clockwise in a circle, a light projection on the floor reveals a spinning 78" record (the gorgeous animations used throughout the piece are by Miwa Matreyek). The dancers take turns tagging and pushing off each other, until one of them breaks away and begins running the other way. It's an apt metaphor for the intersection of collective versus individual identity that is at the heart of the concept of inheritance (familial, cultural, artistic) and the musical concept album, which though loosely united around a general idea or theme always has one or two breakout songs.
But, as my SFU Contemporary Arts colleague Rob Kitsos pointed out in the talkback following last night's performance, the opening also speaks to the nature of hip hop as a dance style, structured as it is around the idea of a "crew" who are all grooving in a circle to the same beats, but who also challenge and egg each other on with individual displays of virtuosic B-boy freestyling. There are plenty of those moments in this performance, but what I love about the 605 Collective is they are also not afraid of unison. In Inheritor Album audiences get some of the best contemporary group movement they'll see on any dance stage, not least in its seamless fusing of choreographic styles and training.
The six performers talked about their eclectic and varied dance training during the talkback, and how most of it--with the possible exception of tap--was reflected in some way or another in the piece. Core 605 members Josh Martin and Lisa Gelley also talked about reconstructing the work in less than a month on three new dancers (Hayden Fong, Waldean Nelson, and Renée Sigouin; the sixth dancer is Laura Avery, part of the original production last year along with Shay Kuebler, Justine Chambers, and David Raymond). To start, the main challenge is just teaching and learning the movement in such a short amount of time; however, once that movement was in the new dancers' bodies, Martin was able to work with them to adapt it to their own particular improvisational strengths.
And by such methods one builds a crew.