Dancing while being stuffed into a business suit isn’t easy.
Neither is connecting with people in an age fraught with texts, tweets and Facebook updates.
People are hyperconnected on the internet and yet, they have no idea how to connect in real life, says dancer Shay Kuebler.
Decked out in a black suit jacket and slacks, Kuebler tackles the contradiction of modern communication in Audible, a contemporary dance piece that runs Wednesday night at the Yukon Arts Centre.
It’s an easy piece to relate to.
On stage, five dancers in business suits jerk, jolt and move through their day, never quite looking each other in the face.
There’s a frenetic struggle to connect and yet they’re never able to.
“These days people are really awkward in person,” said Kuebler.
People bare their souls to all their friends on Facebook and yet they’re still desperate to connect to people in a physical and concrete way, he said.
The internet bombards people with information. Eventually people just learn to shut it out.
Near the end of Audible, the dancers arm themselves with padding and earphones, effectively blocking all communication from reaching them.
The 45-minute dance piece is accompanied by an electronic soundtrack featuring sounds harvested entirely from the internet.
Using a monome, a techy gadget that looks like it was pulled straight out of the Jetsons, the dancers spliced together free music samples they grabbed from the online monome community.
They took their inspiration from Daedelus, a well-known monome artist.
The tablet doesn’t require you to have any formal training with an instrument.
Similar to DJ-ing, it lets people paste together sounds into a musical collage.
“It does take skill to use it,” said Kuebler. “But it demonstrates how music is changing.”
The Vancouver dance group the 605 Collective first performed Audible at the 2009 Dancing on the Edge Festival.
The five-member collective takes it name from an apartment in East Vancouver that three of the core members used to live and practise in.
Dancers Josh Martin, Lisa Gelley, Sasha Kozak, Maiko Miyauchi and Kuebler blend a diverse mix of dance backgrounds.
Collectively, the group has been trained in martial arts, circus arts, hip-hop, jazz, contemporary, Ukrainian, tap and ballet.
For their fall Canadian tour, the group joined with Vancouver dancer and choreographer Amber Funk Barton to present a two-show dance piece.
Funk Barton and Martin open the show with Hero and Heroine, a piece that explores the unconditional attachment between two people.
During the on-stage push and pull between Funk Barton and Martin, the piece challenges the dynamic created by a man and a woman dancing with each other.
“It’s very equal,” said Funk Barton. “In this piece the man isn’t necessarily stronger.”
Hero and Heroine questions the modern concept of a hero.
“In our day-to-day lives heroes are people that we look up to and that inspire us,” said Funk Barton.
“They can also be the people that bring us coffee when we least expect it.”
But Funk Barton purposely keeps the dream-like dance sequence broad so people can interpret it however they choose, she said.
The 605 Collective and Funk Barton are part of a growing trend of modern dancers who are re-imagining their style of dance to make it relevant to new audiences.
And Vancouver is an exciting place to be to watch the change happen.
“There’s lots of young people in Vancouver who aren’t waiting for the older generation to give them work,” she said.
Funk Barton herself waded into the industry without a job.
“I kept dancing because it’s what I love to do and made work for myself,” she said.
With modern dance, dancers have the ability to bring people into a story, said Kuebler.
“We want to create a reaction in people.”
But its also about watching the physical prowess of a dancer.
“People come out to see you sweat,” said Kuebler.
Audible and Hero and Heroine double-bill at the Yukon Arts Centre Wednesday at 8 p.m. Tickets are $27.
Contact Vivian Belik at firstname.lastname@example.org