Culture & Entertainment

CL Culture: 605 Collective attacks 'New Animal'

By: Day Helesic
Canadian Living
Culture & Entertainment

CL Culture: 605 Collective attacks 'New Animal'

By: Day Helesic

New Animal

Toronto received a powerful injection of the West Coast dance scene last weekend. Vancouver’s 605 Collective performed New Animal at the Enwave Theatre, presented by DanceWorks. A commissioned choreography directed by Dana Gingras (of Animals of Distinction and the Holy Body Tattoo) with sound design by Roger Tellier-Craig, the full-length piece for three men and two women was a driven, athletic and all-around ferocious experience.

New Animal seeks to reclaim the animal body in order to fully embrace being human. The piece is primal, instinctual and, at times, brutal. In a February 2012 Georgia Straight article, Gingras said of the work’s concept, “Animals and human behaviour are very close—we’re just better trained but more repressed. Our needs are not that different for food, shelter, our sense of territory, or how we respond to danger. Our mating rituals often feel like a predator-prey situation. So it’s really about social interaction—what would happen if we let out that inner beast?” New Animal’s main playing area is defined by a square, yellow floor planted in the centre of a black stage. Robert Sondergaard’s sophisticated lighting design further suggests a boxing ring, with light streaming from directly above, the beams defined by copious haze. 605 Collective is known for being a hybrid—of dance styles, ideologies and influences. New Animal takes that hybrid and layers in animal attack. In movement that is inspired by both urban and contemporary dance, standout dancers Josh Martin, Lisa Gelley, Shay Kuebler, Amber Funk Barton and David Raymond move with hunger and urgency, sniffing and pawing each other, staking their territory and negotiating ever-shifting hierarchies. There’s a fine, exciting line between being in and out control, and Gingras nails it. Explosive choreography takes the dancers to the floor again and again, only to lift them up into gravity defying flips and spins. It’s compelling stuff—their commitment to physical risk is unwavering. Unquestionably, the performers are the beating heart of the piece—the personification of  “new animals,” in sweat, rasping breaths and lemon juice. Ah yes, the lemons. Rewinding to the opening, the first images of the piece are cinematic, in a film that is projected onto the black scrim. In slow motion, we see a performer with a lemon in his mouth. Then another performer enters the frame and tries to take that lemon. In that teeth-baring fight, the lemon is ripped into pieces. It’s surreal and beautiful to watch, an intimate, brutal almost-kiss, a fight that is instinctual, certainly not pleasurable. The lemon war is played out repeatedly on film and later live, on stage. Watching performers rip lemons out of each other’s mouths, tearing them to shreds, spitting out the juice and then dancing on a floor littered with lemon peels is seriously fascinating. In one of the final scenes, David Raymond appears cloaked in vintage fur. The rest of the pack manipulates this animal self, ripping away strips of fur to reveal the human beneath. A subtle image it’s not, but nonetheless, it's effective as an expression of this powerful piece: Tamed, or untamed, we’re all beasts. Image Credit: Yannick Grandmont and Dana Gingras
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CL Culture: 605 Collective attacks 'New Animal'

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