Pound for pound, the Big Festival’s two dance programs so far have provided some of the most concentrated entertainment and artistry in the whole opening weekend. Israel’s Batsheva Company [image-1]also reminded — like a kick to the head — why dance is such a powerful form of visual and emotional expression. City Paper critic Eliza Ingle put it far better than I can, when she wrote that in their dancing, there’s “such depth of feeling and distillation of movement, it’s like understanding another language without knowing what the words are.”

Montreal-based acrobats/gymnasts Rubberbandance Group (at right) fused breakdancing, hip-hop, and modern dance into a mesmerizing collection of works that at times looked like a combination of physical combat and fast-motion tai chi. The cargos-and-jeans-clad dancers slung each other about, intwining themselves in each other’s arms and legs, rolling across backs and shoulders, treating their partners like they were life-sized hand puppets. The music selections were as unconventional as the dancing. A favorite of mine was the work “Exercise in Wholeness and Awareness,” danced to Saul Williams’ trip-hoppy “Ohm.” Give it a listen here. (It’s not the same as seeing it danced, obviously, but you’ll hear what I mean when I say it’s out of the ordinary.)

rubberbandance.MP3