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Flash Review 1, 7-23: Flash! Bam! Boom!
Rubber Band Dance: More Bounce to the Ounce

By Nicole Pope
Copyright 2002 Nicole Pope

MONTREAL -- Last Thursday I came upon what you might call a "sighting" amidst Montreal's "Just for Laughs" Comedy Festival. Rue St. Denis was lined with exciting street performances: a futuristically-clad woman suspended from an air balloon, jugglers, and a group of performers atop 10-foot poles, defying the laws of gravity as they used momentum to sway from side to side like blades of grass bending in the wind. Just about everyone was sporting the fashion of the festival: red, light-up clown noses. Sounds from the African Nights Music Festival a few blocks away were soon drowned out by the hip hop of local artists entertaining a growing cluster of listeners. Considering my surroundings, the clever rhymings of the performers, and the deep bass rhythms that shook the trees lining St. Denis, I was quite surprised when all of this was interrupted by the "Montagues and Capulets" music from Prokofiev's "Romeo and Juliet." Suddenly the stage was taken over by Victor Quijada and his all-male company "Rubber Band Dance."

The troupe's three-and-a-half minute performance was a taste of what could become an addiction for me. Quijada has an eclectic background ranging from ballet to jazz, hip hop to modern dance. He brings to the stage his practice of breakdancing, which began when he was eight years old, and his experiences of working with Rudy Perez and dancing for Ballet Tech and Twyla Tharp in "Tharp!" The result is power, grace, humor, and (excuse me for saying this) a really cool performance.
Rubber Band Dance's Victor Quijada(in the air): Surpassing genres. Photo courtesy Rubber Band Dance.  

The dancers shared a vocabulary of Quijada's own special blend, made even more unusual by what seemed to be personal twists made by the dancers. Some phrases were so minutely specific and compulsive, I could only be reminded of Tharp's "The Catherine Wheel." The key to the success of Quijada's choreography is that a back flip is not a trick from breakdancing, and a leg held high is not showing off years of ballet training. He is able to create a movement vocabulary that surpasses all of the genres he has studied. I was watching energy, not hip hop or jazz. The performance was great and refreshing and I wish it was more than a sighting, but I will surely keep my eye out for a longer performance with fewer heads obstructing my view; seats would be nice too.

(Editor's note: To read more about the work of Victor Quijada, please click here.)

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