Nothing comes close to Victor Quijada’s ever original style. As the choreographer behind Quotient Empirique and founder of RUBBERBANDance, he teaches his dancers to turn a dimmer on gravity’s effect. With exquisite control of space and matter, explosive yet tender movement and a defining grasp on the contemporary, Quotient Empirique exceeds expectations all around.

RUBBERBANDance © Tim Forbes
RUBBERBANDance
© Tim Forbes

Breaking convention, the dancers are already on stage experimenting to a basic beat as the audience files in. The start of the show is announced as the six performers huddle together and the music stops. A technician’s voice over the speakers makes the call for the house lights to go out, and the music comes back in. A mix of classical sounding violins layered on heavier but casual beats set the tone as the group break their hold and turns to face us.

What is so captivating about RUBBERBANDance is that they’ve developed their own technique. It’s obvious from the start that there’s something different going on as we see a group of six dancers moving as one thick fiber, threading through one another in a fluid and never ending motion. They have the freedom to push the limits of every movement, always going for that extra angle on the diagonal or that extra foot on a reach, because no matter how far out they go, they always stay anchored to their center of gravity.

Influences from gymnastics, circus, ballet and hip hop weave their way into the choreography. The group of six divides into duos and trios, and begins to play with intricate partnering. Unlike the ballet model of one person supporting and presenting the other, these partnerings are based on mutual give and take. The dancers always have a pensive look on their faces that gives away the secret of their fun: it’s as if every movement arrives organically, and, instead of thinking what’s next, the dancers are appreciating the value of what is happening in the present moment.

Character roles become more obvious as the piece progresses. There are duos of longing and others of learning. The men explore physical limits, performing one acrobatic trick after the next, but always in a hyper-controlled fashion so that you never even hear them touch the ground (let alone breathe). The women are more intimate, exploring sentiment and the intellectual development of the process. Lea Ved in particular stands out as the orchestrator of the group. At one point, she manipulates the men into a compromising position that makes the whole audience laugh as they scuttle off the stage, leaving her alone. She then performs one of the strongest, most intimidating and exciting solos I’ve seen in years. Again, the control these dancers have is unbelievable, and perfectly exemplified when Ved contracts her muscles so fast while carving through the space, that you could swear they had turned on a strobe light.

Quotient Empirique questions the way we walk through the world. Why should the connection of our feet on the ground be the only way to find stability? What if we could find balance by connecting our back to someone’s shoulder, and move in any direction that way? Up and down become subjective and the whole world begins to feel a lot more like a playground. Forever young in body and mind, RUBBERBANDance brings exploration and community to the forefront in this spellbinding new work.

*****