Tag Archives: Hip Hop

The Debut of Canada’s RUBBERBANDance Group Brings with it a Unique Blend of Hip Hop and Contemporary Dance Styles

Vic's Mix photo 1 - Credit Bill Hebert

RUBBERBANDance Group in “Vic’s Mix”. Photo by Bill Hebert.

By Steve Sucato

One of the early pioneers of the seamless blending of hip hop dance styles and those of contemporary dance, Victor Quijada’s Montreal-based RUBBERBANDance Group has, the past decade or so, been creating the future of dance while waiting for the dance world to slowly catch up to that future.

Presented by DANCECleveland and Tri-C Performing Arts, the critically acclaimed company will make its Ohio debut on Saturday, November 9 at Playhouse Square’s Mimi Ohio Theatre for one performance only.

Born and raised in Los Angeles to Mexican parents (his father a foundry worker and his mother a factory worker), Quijada found his way to dance at age 8 through b-boying circles and hip-hop clubs. Formal training in other dance styles followed with Quijada becoming a member of LA’s Rudy Perez Performance Ensemble. His career as a professional dancer took off in the late 1990’s when he joined Twyla Tharp’s dance company THARP! and continued in stints with Eliot Feld’s Ballets Tech and Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal. His choreographic career came with the founding RUBBERBAND in 2002.

In a 2013 article for The Scotsman, Quijada said he is the product of “the culture I grew up in, the respect and wonder I have for art, the professional career I had in those high caliber classical and contemporary dance companies, and the interface between those places… If one of those things had been missing, it wouldn’t have led me here.”

Along with starting RUBBERBAND as an experiment in the movement blending of what he calls “the two poles that inhabit him,” Quijada conceived a technique for dancers he calls the RUBBERBAND Method that “combines the energy of hip hop, the refinement of classical ballet, and the angular quality of contemporary dance.”

Vic's Mix photo 14 - Credit Bill Hebert

RUBBERBANDance Group in “Vic’s Mix”. Photo by Bill Hebert.

That signature technique will be seen in full force in the company’s presentation of Vic’s Mix (2016), a retrospective and remix show that Quijada says he revises and remounts every 5-years and samples some of what he feels is his best bits of choreography from some 40 creations he has made for RUBBERBAND and other dance companies. Saturday’s 75-minute Vic’s Mix program will spans works from 2002-2013.

“It’s a look back on things that are still relevant to me and a chance for me to re-appropriate my own works that I have made for other companies,” said Quijada on the phone from Montreal.

Set to a soundtrack by various composers including original music from longtime company collaborator Jasper Gahunia, Vic’s Mix is delivered in 2 acts. Act 1 covers excerpts from Quijada’s early creations from 2002-2005 performed in sneakers. It will give audiences a taste of Quijada’s evolution as a choreographer and his use of the RUBBERBAND Method. Included in the act will be “The Traviattle” (2003) set to Giuseppe Verdi’s “Libiamo ne’ lieti calici” from the opera La traviata, a piece Quijada originally choreographed as part of his evening-length work Metabolism that has become an audience favorite.

Act 2 revisits excerpts from works made between 2008-2013 including “Second Coming,” a piece Quijada made for Scottish Dance Theatre in (2012). The aptly named work followed Quijada’s very first commission outside of RUBBERBAND, 2003’s “Self Observation Without Judgement” for Scottish Dance Theatre that earned the United Kingdom’s Peter Darrell Choreographic Award. Also a part of act 2 will be an excerpt from 2008’s Punto Ciego, inspired by the nonlinear approaches of author Milan Kundera and filmmaker Quentin Tarantino.

Vic's Mix photo 8 - Credit Bill Hebert

RUBBERBANDance Group in “Vic’s Mix”. Photo by Bill Hebert.

Vic’s Mix will be performed by RUBBERBAND’s 8-member company who are all steeped in the RUBBERBAND Method after intense training.

“Time here with RUBBERBAND kind of passes like dog years,” says Quijada. “The amount of change and growth in one year for a dancer is enough for 7-years.”

And while Saturday’s program will be RUBBERBAND’s area debut, Quijada’s work has been seen here before with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s performance of his “Physikal Linguistiks” in 2010 presented by DANCECleveland.  And the RUBBERBAND Method’s influences were seen recently in former company member James Gregg’s work “éveillé” (2018) for GroundWorks DanceTheater.

With Vic’s Mix Quijada says audiences will experience those things that drove the creation of his works in the first place: “human interactions, intimacy and connection, comedy and the feelings of highs and lows.”

RUBBERBANDance Group performs Vic’s Mix, 7:30 p.m., Saturday, November 9; Playhouse Square’s Mimi Ohio Theatre, 1511 Euclid Ave., Downtown, Cleveland. Tickets are $25-50. For tickets and information visit playhousesquare.org or call (216) 241-6000.

Steve Sucato is a former dancer turned arts writer/critic. He is Chairman Emeritus of the Dance Critics Association and Associate Editor of ExploreDance.com.






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61Syx Teknique is ‘breaking’ barriers in advancing one of hip hop’s original dance forms

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Owner/Director Keegan Loye. Photo credit Darline Nguyen.

By Steve Sucato

In the heart of Grand Rapids’ Comstock Park neighborhood sits an anomaly. No, it’s not a giant sinkhole or a time portal to another dimension—it’s something far more innocuous but perhaps just as rare: a dance school that exclusively teaches breakdancing.

61Syx Teknique Street Dance Academy, with its graffiti-adorned walls, is one of just a few dance schools in the nation that exclusively teaches breakdance. Most dance studios offer classes in a variety of dance styles. Even the ones with a hip hop dance concentration generally offer training in several styles within the genre, such as popping, locking, and krumping. The narrow focus is something 61Syx Teknique owner/director Keegan “Seoul” Loye says is at the heart of their philosophy as artists and teachers.

“We want to pass down the legacy of breaking to others,” says Loye. “Although breaking has been a street dance for decades, it is still very new when it comes to being taught in dance studios.”

Click here to read on…

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In ‘Monchichi,’ Company Wang Ramirez Reveal the Future of Contemporary Dance

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Company Wang Ramirez in “Monchichi.” Photo by Nika Kramer.

Company Wang Ramirez – Monchichi
Capitol Theatre at the Riffe Center
Columbus, Ohio
March 1, 2016

Reviewed by Steve Sucato

Pulsating electronic music filled Columbus’ Capitol Theatre at the Riffe Center as Sébastien Ramirez and Honji Wang, a.k.a. Company Wang Ramirez, took the stage March 1 in their 2011 dance-theater piece Monchichi.

Not to be confused with the line of popular Japanese stuffed toy monkeys, the 55-minute Monchichi combined an abstraction of hip hop dance with other dance styles and martial arts movement that could very well represent the first salvo in the next trend in contemporary dance. Frenchman and former hip-hop B-boy, Ramirez and ballet-trained Wang – a German-born dancer of Korean descent – were nothing short of stellar in the abstract work that infused narrative, atmospheric lighting effects and a dose of humor. The pairs’ dancing throughout it was crisp, polished and masterful. On shadowy stage occupied only by a leafless tree, Wang, costumed in lingerie and sporting a top bun, moved her hands in bird-like flaps as a shirtless, shoeless Ramirez in long pants skittered behind her in movement blending hip hop flamenco dance.

Performed to music composed by Everdayz (Ila Koutchoukov) along with selections from Carlos Gardel, Alva Noto, Nick Cave and others, the pair moved through individual riffs that were as practiced as Tai Chi and as smooth as silk.

As the work progressed, the once sparse tree glowed red with bulbs that lit sparking imagery of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Just one of many images the two dancers conjured up in choreography that had them chasing one another, bickering with each other, and spouting random narrative including Ramirez recounting living in Germany and an old man from his neighborhood being named Monchichi.


Company Wang Ramirez in “Monchichi.” Photo by Nika Kramer.

Much more could be written about the many layered goings on onstage and the smart and interesting interactions between Wang and Ramirez, but only seeing the work for yourself can do it justice. In the end what transpired in Monchichi was a captivating slice of life delivered by some killer dancers that was a highlight of this and any other dance season.

Steve Sucato is a former dancer turned arts writer/critic. He is Chairman Emeritus of the Dance Critics Association and Associate Editor of ExploreDance.com.

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Filed under Dance Reviews 2016