BJM Danse keeps us on our toes with triple-bill of Rossini Cards, Zero in On and Zip Zap Zoom
A program by BJM Danse (formerly Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal) is full of surprises, with energetic dance that’s flashy, cool and seductively edgy. The reliably ebullient repertory company splices trends and genres with ease, blurring boundaries between contemporary, ballet and jazz genres, and defying expectations.
Artistic director Louis Robitaille has pursued a different model for the company, creating a vast inventory of works by international choreographers with distinctive styles. The dynamic, playful repertoire is designed to showcase the excellent dancers’ strong backgrounds in classical dance and their formidable and adaptable skills in jazz and contemporary.
Moreover, Robitaille has found ways to keep his high-calibre performers long-term happy. James Gregg, born and raised in Oklahoma, into his sixth season, says he thrives on the "challenges that keep [the dancing] fresh, finding different ways to explore movement and connect as a group." Amsterdam-based choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa was immediately drawn to the group, currently 14 dancers, as it reminded of her own beginnings in Dutch ensemble Djazzex, where everyone was a soloist: "People wanted your personality."
In BJM’s upcoming Danse Danse-produced show, a trio of works includes Mauro Bigonzetti’s Rossini Cards, Cayetano Soto’s Zero in On and Zip Zap Zoom. The latter, a crowd-pleaser co-created by Ochoa and videographer Javier Velasquez, sprang from the idea that people might like to see life – and dance – while in front of a computer monitor, engaged in addiction-forming online gaming, accessing virtual worlds in search of perfect places or simply social networks.
In the piece, dancers and audience enter what Gregg marvels as a "trippy, psychedelic" environment dominated by flashing electronic backdrops and potent graphics. Those who may not have the patience for head-scratching conventional dance work will no doubt readily embrace the piece’s cavalcade of images and avatars and Ochoa’s mapping of a restless and competitive generation.
At Théâtre Maisonneuve, Place des Arts, Oct. 20-22