Breaking Boundaries
Canadian Rubberbandance turn upside down and inside out

Just when you thought it had all been done before, a Canadian group of six energetic dancers demonstrate that something new is still possible. Rubberbandance kicked off the dance component of Spoleto Festival USA with an entertaining program, Elastic Perspective, which fuses break dance, hip-hop, and modern dance styles. Some of the dancers are self-taught and others are classically trained, but the work is innovative and edgy and rolls off the dancers bodies like liquid. The troupe is led by Victor Quijada and also includes Joe Danny Aurelien, Julio Cesar Hong, Lila-Mae Talbot and Julia Gutsik. Dressed in jeans, T-shirts, and sneakers, the dancers spend just as much time on their hands as they do their feet.

Beginning with Secret Service, the booming melody of the Prokofiev score supports the full-bodied movement full of combative gestures, and dancers battle amongst themselves or outside forces. Explosive and sharp, the sound of the old with the look of the new gives more depth to each aesthetic.

In a duet with Quijada and Talbot, the two turn conventional partnering upside down as Talbot balances precariously atop Quijada’s head.

In Exercise in Wholeness and Awareness, Quijada meditates on the urban experience in his solo with a powerful score by Saul Williams. It is a moving portrait of a man propelled by centrifugal forces, where stillness is fleeting and his only solace in an ever-changing environment.

Untitled Trio was a weak link in the suite of dances, all loosely hung on the theme of human relationships. Due to a last-minute injury, the piece was added and, at times, lost focus. A clever moment, when two dancers exchange a piece of clothing within the dance, saved it from being a wash.

In an excerpt from Hasta La Proxima, Aurelien and Talbot manipulated each other’s bodies with shoves, pulls, pushes, and kicks — at first in a playful way and then more aggressively. The recorded text was a dialogue between the two as they go through the games that people play in a relationship until one gets angry or loses interest.

The performers are engaging, and it is their movement, with its fresh and edgy quality, that becomes more important than the choreography.

RUBBERBANDANCE • Spoleto Festival USA • May 27 at 2 p.m.; May 27 at 8 p.m.; May 28 at noon • $30 • Emmett Robinson Theatre, 54 St. Philip St. • 579-3100