An innovative dance company from Montreal that has developed a unique style inspired by breakdancing, classical ballet and dance theatre will be performing in Quesnel this weekend.
RUBBERBAND is an organization dedicated to creation and production with the mission of supporting the research of choreographer Victor Quijada, disseminating his works and ensuring the transmission and impact of his practice
Quijada founded RUBBERBAND in 2002 in Montreal.
“Armed with a technique he conceived for dancers, the RUBBERBAND Method – an electrifying vocabulary combining the energy of hip hop, the refinement of classical ballet, and the angular quality of contemporary dance – and some 40 creations and collaborations in Canada and abroad behind him, Quijada has always continued to evolve and innovate throughout his prolific career,” according to RUBBERBAND’s website.
Quijada traces the roots for RUBBERBAND back to his youth growing up in Los Angeles.
“My first contact with dance was through hip hop culture, growing up in the early 1980s,” he said. “It was this new sub-culture that was picking us all up and taking us with it. That was a part of my life since the time I was seven.”
Quijada’s first dance class was when he went to arts high school and learned ballet and modern dance.
“The ballet and the modern was the opposite to what I was doing, and at some point, I had to make a choice between the two worlds, and I focused on becoming a contemporary concert dancer,” he said. Quijada danced with well-known choreographers in New York, and then dance took him to Montreal, where he joined Les Grands Ballets Canadiens.
“After going from kind of one end of the spectrum with street dance to the other end of the spectrum with classical — and everything in between, modern, post-modern, classical ballet, contemporary — I felt like I needed to start a project or at least give myself some space where I could bring all these things together and not keep them separated,” he said. “RUBBERBAND became my laboratory where I would try to take that raw energy and vocabulary that I grew up with and use classical and contemporary compositional elements that I had acquired during my professional career and see what would happen with all these together.”
Quijada says when he first started introducing this new choreography, in the early 2000s, there was a handful of companies in the world who were putting hip hop or breakdancing on stage “in any kind of profound way” but nothing like what he wanted to do.
“We’ve seen people doing the tricks or doing superficial, very first-degree ‘here are some headspins’ or ‘here are some backflips,’ but there weren’t very many people who were looking at what the potential for this as a means to convey something a little more profound,” he said. “And those who were doing it were doing very authentic ‘what happens on the street, we’re going to put it on stage,’ and that’s not exactly what I wanted to do. I wanted to allow what I used to do as a teenager to be informed with everything I had learned in the concert dance world. I knew there was going to be some kind of mutation or some kind of transformation to the original form.”
Quijada says reaction was mixed because this was so new and so different.
“I think people who were open to it were saying ‘wow, there’s so much in here — it’s very green, it’s very early stages, but there’s something very potent here,’” he said. “I think in those early days, it was hard not to get pigeonholed into ‘this is break[dancing] on stage,’ because it’s not break[dancing], and even now when I say those words, I think there are a lot of expectations about what hip hop looks like or sounds like or what it should do, and it gets tricky to talk about it because it’s not hip hop on stage, and it’s not hip hop meets ballet. Sometimes I say it’s taking the DNA of hip hop dance forms and street dance forms and taking the DNA and genetic information from concert dance, classical ballet and contemporary dance, and letting it become its own entity. It’s a new form, but you can recognize the roots — you can recognize where it comes from.”
RUBBERBAND is bringing the show Vic’s Mix to Quesnel, which features excerpts of various works Quijada has created over the years.
“Vic’s Mix is a retrospective program I created to celebrate the first 15 years of the company,” said Quijada. “That program is separated into two acts, and in Act One, it focuses on some of the very early experiments that were conducted in the company, and in the second act, it looks at the last 10 years and some of those experiments, what they grew into, where they led me, how those successes and failures propelled me into these different directions. I’ve taken different, smaller works and excerpts of larger works, and in a way, I often refer to it as a greatest hits album.”
Seven dancers will be performing, and Quijada says there is quite a variety of music, including well-known classical works and original music by the composer who has worked with Quijada for many years.
“Vic’s Mix is a great way to introduce people to my work and the company because the program focuses on different parts of my career — it’s not super chronological, but it’s almost like a chronological overview of some of those first experiments,” he said. “Those first experiments were basically just putting break- or street dance-inspired movement to classical music. For me, they were these first very simple questions of ‘what happens to the movement when you put it to that music? What happens to the music when you put that type of movement to it? And does it change how we see it, does it change how we hear it?’ Those questions are there in that work, but then in the second act, it goes like ‘OK, what do I want to do with that new choreographic language I’ve just stumbled upon.
“It’s very physical and surprising at times because it kind of gets a little humorous.”
RUBBERBAND Dance performs Vic’s Mix Sunday, Oct. 27 at 7:30 p.m. at the Chuck Mobley Theatre at Correlieu Secondary School as part of the Quesnel Live Arts 2019-20 season.
Tickets are $25 for adults and $20 for students and seniors and are available at Green Tree Health and Wellness, K-Max, Save On Foods, The Occidental and at the door.
For more information, visit qla.ca.