You’re bound to lose control when the rubberbandance starts to jam

Rubberband Man

Hip-hop artist Victor Quijada creates an innovative hybrid of dance

What do you get when you combine the edgy street moves of breakdancing with the streamlined technique of ballet? Ideally, you’ll end up with something akin to Rubberbandance, a Montréal-based company of dancers under the artistic influence of Victor Quijada. These very different styles fused together are causing an international buzz among dance watchers, and audiences in Charleston will be able to see what the excitement is about when Rubberbandance snaps into the 2007 Spoleto Festival.

Victor Quijada is not your run-of-the-mill artistic director. Starting as a baby breaker on the streets and in the clubs of Los Angeles, he went on to study other dance forms like ballet and modern dance. His talent soon attracted the eyes of master choreographers like Twyla Tharp, whose company he was dancing with on his first visit to Charleston. He went on to work with Eliot Feld and Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montreal. These experiences fueled his fire as a choreographer and in 2002 he formed Rubberbandance, whose name was inspired by the ever flexible Mr. Quijada’s nickname as a young breaker. He was not only interested in the different ways of moving, but the varied personal experiences he had while dancing.

Elastic Perspective is an example of my vision to blend the energies from the raw as well as the refined in terms of dance styles,” Quijada says of the program that his six-member company will be presenting. “It also is about exploring human relationships with this unique vocabulary of movement.”

The dance includes seven sections set to a collage of sound, like a duet to Verdi or a hip-hop interpretation of a Prokofiev score. As for his music choices, Quijada says, “I grew up with the explosive energy of rap music in the hip-hop culture, but I also recognized that potential in refined classical music scores. I wanted to create a window where anything could happen.”

Hip-hop is more about the culture, he says. “It is more a collective — a cultural movement happening in the late ’80s and ’90s in L.A. For me it was more about channeling a passion and creating something out of nothing.”

His group of accomplished dancers are themselves a blend of styles: some with extensive ballet training, others in contemporary dance, and then others who are self-taught breakdancers and hip-hop artists. This spectrum of style sets up interesting contrasts in dynamics, line, and performance attitudes.

“Those who have little formal training have a lot to learn about the life of professional dancers — just as much as those with a classical background and loads of training,” says Quijada. “They must really ‘unlearn’ certain aspects of professional dancing, like the presentational drive for perfection. For both, they need to use the body in a different way.”

Quijada’s sense of invention has pleased critics and viewers around the world. The fusion of the popular and traditional makes it available to a younger generation who don’t mind a deconstructionist point of view.

RUBBERBANDANCE• Spoleto Festival USA • $30 • (1 hour 15 min.) • May 25 and 27 at 8 p.m., May 27 at 2 p.m., May 28 at noon • Emmett Robinson Theatre, 54 St. Philip St. • 579-3100