STORY WRITTEN BY BRIAN BINGAMAN
@brianbingaman on Twitter
Montreal-based choreographer Victor Quijada hit it off well in Philadelphia.
A self-described dance “anti-intellectual” and “anti-elitist,” he once sat silently on a Philly stage, and waited for the audience to do something, like cough. Once the audience realized his movements were mimicking the spontaneous sounds coming from the seats, they began making all types of random noises.
Quijada’s RUBBERBANDance Group (RBDG for short) breaks through the boundaries between hip-hop, ballet and contemporary dance with six performances to launch the 2016-17 season of the NextMove Dance series. He said in a phone interview that this will be the fifth time in his career that he’s performed here.
“We were (in Philly) when Obama had first been elected president. Somebody yells out: “Obama!” They erupted into cheers, and my body erupted (to mimic the sound),” Quijada said. “I’m really excited. This is our 10th year working with (Dance Affiliates/NextMove Dance artistic director) Randy Swartz and it’s our first time at the Prince Theater.”
The program will feature works such as “Secret Service,” which mashes up breakdancing and ballet to the dramatic sounds of Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet,” a playful battle of the sexes set to a section of Verdi’s opera “La Traviata,” plus a quirky moment when a spotlight insistently follows someone the audience is led to believe is an usher.
“Yes, it’s entertaining,” he said, mentioning the flips in breakdancing, “but people want to see something meaningful … art-er-tainment.”
The son of Mexican immigrants, Quijada lived the B-boy lifestyle in the clubs of Los Angeles in the ‘80s — where he got the nickname Rubberband — then danced with post-modernist pioneer Rudy Perez, toured with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal, and studied under Twyla Tharp when he passed a grueling series of auditions for the company of Broadway’s “Movin’ Out.”
“If you read her books, she is not exaggerating. She would cut it to brass tacks every day,” Quijada said of working with Tharp. He said one of the most important things the famous choreographer instilled in him, which served him well when he formed his own dance company, was “time is money.”
In addition to the performances, Quijada will conduct a master class at 1 p.m. Oct. 14 at the University of the Arts Dance Department. For more information, contact (215) 636-9000, ext. 110 or firstname.lastname@example.org.