Contemporary dancer Josh Martin had to get in touch with his inner animal.
The piece, New Animal, was a collaboration between Martin’s company, 605 Collective, and Animals of Distinction’s choreographer Dana Gingras, exploring the base instincts left over from early human evolution.
“It was inspired by a lot of things around what it is to be wild,” Martin said.
The dancers explore the animalistic behaviour through situations of survival, predator and prey, and defending territory, among others.
To get in touch with those animal instincts, the dancers looked through survival manuals – how to survive an avalanche, a bear attack (put your hands up and make yourself big) or shark attack (take a deep breath because you don’t know when you might get another).
From there, the dancers explored those movements and others, guided by the choreographer’s tasks and prompts.
“There was a lot of play with how we would stalk each other, or fight each other,” Martin said. “These were all things that got imprinted early on.”
Once the dancers were comfortably interacting as their animal selves, Gingas layered in further movements to create what Martin describes as an adreneline-filled dance.
“You can see how it starts to layer on top of each other,” Martin said.
“You can kind of lose yourself a bit in that – given the freedom, we can go very wild.”
The dance includes a bit of improvisation, allowing the dancers to react to not only each other, but also to their states of mind during each performance.
“We know where we want to get to but we don’t always know how we’re going to get there,” Martin said. “There’s all these sorts of things that will happen.”
It’s a challenge, which forces the dancers to remain in the moment, watching and reacting to each other’s movements rather than thinking ahead to the dance’s conclusion.
“It’s exhausting, but it’s a lot of fun,” Martin said.
The company, 605 Collective, formed in 2006 with Martin as one of the founding members as a peer-to-peer professional development group to explore and experiment in movement.
The group’s experiementation eventually led to informal performances, followed by longer works.
After studying hip hop and street dance with the goal to becoming a professional dancer, Martin said he found opportunities in Vancouver to bridge into contemporary dance. There, he found his calling.
“I just fell in love with the freedom in that,” Martin said.
605 Collective performs New Animal Nov. 9, 7:30 p.m., at the Port Theatre. Tickets are $32; $28/members; $22/students. Please call 250-754-8550 or visit www.porttheatre.com.
Martin and Lisa Gelley will lead workshops in movement for people of all experience levels on Nov. 7-8. For information on those, please visit www.crimsoncoastdance.org.