Review: Gravity of Center (RUBBERBANDance Group)

Gravity of Center blends dance styles together as part of the new season of Danceworks in Toronto

Only in the world of dance can the most savage and base expression of human emotion appear fascinating and delicate. This was definitely true of last night’s performance of Gravity of Center at Harbourfront’s Fleck Dance Theatre as part of Danceworks 2012-2013 season. It was the kind of meaty movement you could really sink your teeth into, as the quintet of ultra-hip twenty-somethings popped, locked, and tumbled across the barren stage.

My immediate impression was that of island castaways who find themselves marooned in a foreign landscape. Suddenly, their relationships to each other as they navigate their new environment narrate a story of struggle and deliverance.

They are dressed in mismatched rags, like shipwrecked voyagers, and they take turns ostracizing members of the band. It was a dancey verison of Lord of the Flies meets Lost with a finale of Scott O’Dell’s Island of the Blue Dolphins.

Unlike other forms of performing arts, dance shows aren’t typically Centered around a strict narrative. Each vignette is an opportunity to marvel at the strength and agility of the human body, the synchronized efforts of a single team, and left wide open to interpretation.

Choreographer Victor Quijada created Gravity of Center as a way to explore themes of the economic “haves” and “have-nots” – specifically in response to the crisis of 2008 which saw overnight fiscal obliteration.

What remains when everything you know is stripped away? What is important in the face of abrupt vulnerability?

Lighting designer Yan Lee Chan used volume and colour sparingly to paint a pallid physical picture in response to Jasper Gahunia (aka DJ Lil’Jaz, EJAY II)’s sometimes goofy soundscape.

But whatever your impression of the overall feeling, the quality of performances – which meld acrobatics with martial arts, hip hop, breakdance and ballet – are undeniably exciting and original.

 

Details

Gravity of Center at Harbourfront’s Fleck Dance Theatre plays until tonight, Saturday November 17th at 8pm.

Tickets are $15 – $34 and can be purchased here or by calling 416-973-4000.