Coming In Loud and Clear: 605 Collective's Debut at ADF
American Dance Festival, Reynolds Theatre, June 15-17, 2013
By Michele Trumble
Among the basic human needs is the strong urge to connect, to be seen, to be heard, to be - audible. 605 Collective, a Vancouver based dance company explores the idea of craving connection and the impact of technology on our interactions in their evening length work "Audible". Though created and first performed in 2009, "Audible" came to the Reynolds Industries Theater June 15th through the 17th as 605 Collective's American Dance Festival debut. The work is a collaborative effort. Starting with the seed idea of technology's impact on social structure and skills, the five dancers (Scott Augustine, Lisa Gelley, Shay Kuebler, Josh Martin and Maiko Miyauchi) collectively expanded, explored and edited the work together.
This collective approach gives "Audible" a varied movement vocabulary that for which 605 Collective has become known. The audience is inundated with the five dancer's brazen physicality as they slip in and out of a variety of genres, including contemporary, breaking, ballet, and capoiera. Jason Dubois' stark lighting as well as the electronic sound scape by Daedelus, Tehn, Portable Sunsets, aMute, Ghislain Poirirer and Mulatu Asatke support but do not complicate, leaving the theatricality and emotional charge to be delivered by bodies moving in and out of relationship with other.
The show begins quite suddenly, with a dancer hurling himself from offstage before the lights have even had a chance to fully dim in the auditorium. One by one the five dancers propel themselves to the stage and pick themselves up and adjust their drab business suits as though they aren't quite sure how they landed there. A collage of isolations, calling to mind popping and locking, begin to tremor through the dancers' bodies as they attempt to make sense of how their limbs are supposed to take in their surroundings. Their insular focus expands as they begin to interact with each other like the beginning of a contact improv jam - cautiously sharing weight and trying to read each others intentions, often leading to awkward pauses and re-initiation of a singular rough and tumble phrase. The phrase repeats itself over and over with increasing efficiency and athleticism until one dancer breaks rank and simply walks away, creating a chaotic breakdown of the machine into colliding solos, duets and trios.
Unsure of how to connect after the breakdown, the dancers attempt mirroring each others' focus, gestures, and tempo creating hilarious bewilderment as they start to confuse who is mirroring who in their five person rotation. Gelley suddenly pulls away, walks downstage and paces in front of the audience. She brings her hand to her chin, smiles, brings one leg up and crosses it over the other as though sitting in an imagery chair. The lights in the auditorium come up as she continues and giggles erupt from the audience as we realize she is mirroring us. There is a sense of joy in the laughter from the audience at first, but a sense of uncomfortableness soon invades as the rest of the dancers join and we see ourselves played out through the dancers on stage. The safety of the fourth wall (or cyberspace) is broken as the audience is forced into the vulnerability of face to face interaction.
Attempts to emulate and anticipate each other continue throughout the evening. Standing alone on stage Martin begins a series of gestures - squirming, puffing up his chest and pumping his fists with comic exaggeration of facial expressions. Kuebler enters upstage of Martin and begins to imitate him. Feeling his presence, Martin turns around only to find Kuebler awkwardly stretching as though that was what he was doing all along. One by one the other dancers join in, trying to keep up with Martin's ever changing pace and direction. Each time Martin looks back, the dancers scratch an elbow or become intently interested on a spot on the floor in an attempt to hide their mischievous emulation of Martin's every move. Online voyeurism comes to mind - a sort of Facebook newsfeed come to life through movement. The roles are reversed as the dancers take on Martin's movement at increasing speed and Martin is left behind now struggling to keep up with his own phrase - his own life as others are seeing it.
"Audible" is sprinkled with these movements of hilarity. Later on we watch with delight as two dancers attempt an incredibly clumsy and unsexy tango back to back, all the while searching for the prescribed social connection only to find their fingers up the their partner's nose. Suit jackets come off and elbow pads and wrestling headgear is added as they become more desperate in their failed efforts at connection, smashing into each other for uncomfortably prolonged and awkward hugs. Despite all the comedic moments, "Audible" is undercut with moments of disconnect that bring to light the uncomfortable repercussions of technology on our social skills and needs. Gelley, Martin, Kuebler, Augustine and Miyauchi commit themselves to throwing their bodies in and out of floor in the same desperate and careless manner we often throw our information into cyberspace and let us watch and guess the future consequences.