For nearly 15 years, choreographer Victor Quijada has shaped his unique blend of hip-hop, ballet and contemporary dance through his own company, RUBBERBANDance Group. This weekend, however, his new piece “Once again, before you go” will be given its Philadelphia premiere not by his company but by Bodytraffic, the athletic and diverse repertory company from Los Angeles.
Quijada likens the process of shaping his work for another company to adjusting a tailored suit to fit another body. “My dancers and I have a history, so we’ve been threading and weaving and sewing that material together for a long time,” he says. “Going to a new company, I take a finished, pristine product and let them wear our jacket, try different suits on and see if they can wear it as if it was made for them. For a repertory company, that’s their jam.”
Quijada grew up dancing in the hip-hop culture of his native Los Angeles before moving on to some of North America’s most acclaimed ballet and contemporary dance companies, finally landing in Montreal. Bringing together his wide-ranging influences into a single (and singular) style wasn’t some grand concept, he insists; it was a necessity.
“Back in 2001, I was in the ballet studio from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and then I was in the hip-hop clubs from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m.,” he recalls. “I was having kind of a crisis and I needed to bring those things together. This new language isn’t a cut and paste; it’s two forms among others that have been digested and melted down and alchemied into a new form.”
Quijada’s piece deals with relationships, exploring a number of different stories that can develop with an intimate cast of four male dancers and just one female. It was created to a newly commissioned score by Jasper Gahunia, a frequent collaborator whose work bears a similar hybrid form to Quijada’s. Aa classically trained composer who regularly performs as a competitive DJ, Gahunia’s music for the company combines classical music with turntable techniques out of hip hop and dance music.
At the show:
“Once again, before you go” is one of three premieres that Bodytraffic will present as part of Dance Affiliates' inaugural season at the Prince Theater. Also on the program are “The New 45,” a trio piece set to the music of jazz greats Clark Terry, Oscar Peterson and Harry Belafonte choreographed by Richard Siegal, artistic director of The Bakery Paris-Berlin; and “A Trick of Light,” a whimsical piece by Joshua Peugh inspired by the green flash seen in the last moments of a setting sun. – Shaun Brady
Bodytraffic is performing Nov. 4-8 at the Prince Theater, 1412 Chestnut St. Tickets are $20-$57 at 215-422-4580 or www.princetheater.org/bodytraffic.