Montreal-based RUBBERBANDance Group opened the 2018-19 DanceWorks Mainstage series with Ever So Slightly, choreographed by Artistic Director Victor Quijada. The performance was billed as an “avant world premiere”. And Toronto is lucky to be the first to get a sneak peak at this new work. Though it was sometimes hard to watch, Ever So Slightly was a beautiful and inventive evening of dance.
The house lights were still on as the curtain rose on a completely bare stage. Rigging and lights were all visible as ten dancers dressed in boiler suits in muted colours wandered on stage and lay flat on the ground. On a scaffold to the right, two musicians tuned up. Then the lights went out and a guitar started to play. As the stage lights came on, the dancers began to move one by one, bubbling up slowly from the floor.
Quijada’s background is in street dance and hip-hop, and those influences were definitely evident in the movement of Ever So Slightly. The first section, in particular, featured break- dancing moves slowed down so you could see every component. I found the juxtaposition of steps I’m used to seeing done really fast with the slow beat and guitar music fascinating. The movement also featured elements of martial arts and capoeira. One section seemed like a dance battle with dancers moving into and out of the centre of a circle of onlookers.
Ever So Slightly doesn’t have a plot or narrative or any identifiable characters. It’s an abstract exploration of anxiety, chaos, and aggression. There are moments of what seem to be stylized mob violence and mental breakdown which are terrifying. But there are also touching moments of support and community.
All ten dancers are on stage for the entire 70-minute production, and their movement is always linked. One dancer will set off a chain reaction that ripples through the group. They push and pull each other, often without actually touching but instead with a sort of magnetic force. I loved the physicality and strength of the dancers and the innovative partnering.
The Fleck Dance Theatre is a great place to watch dance. It’s small enough that there are no bad sightlines. No matter where you sit, you feel close to the performers. I also really liked the live music by Jasper Gahunia and William Lamoureux. The haunting electronic soundscape featured strings, beats, keyboards, and sampling, moving from pulsating to lyrical and back again.
- Ever So Slightly runs October 11 and 12, 2018 at the Fleck Dance Theatre (207 Queens Quay West)
- Shows are at 8pm
- Tickets are $42.25, $28 for seniors, $15 for students and are available online or at the box office.
Photo of the company by Mathieu Doyon