“There is red in everything,” says a dancer with the Ekilibre Dance Company. Barns of Rose Hill will feature Ekilibre’s Virginia Premiere of rrrojo this Saturday, April 14, at 7:30 and Sunday, April 15, at 2 p.m. According to the company’s founder, Maurice Fraga, “This dance work has chosen to focus on just the red element in our world, be it good or bad.”
This “pick-up” company was formed in 2006 at Shenandoah University. Depending on the project, it uses dancers in New York City or Winchester and has been increasing its national and international dance scene visibility. “Having had the opportunity to live in Spain from 2007-08, I was able to keep creating work for the company and present it to European audiences. I have also been invited to teach more on the international level which allows me to connect with more people outside of the Virginia area to keep pushing the visibility of the company.
“As I keep traveling and seeing new art, my ideas keep growing and the company’s work has reflected that change. More theatrical settings are of interest to me, rather than just simple dance works.” Fraga plans to make the company into something that the next generation of dancers will want to join. “I am thinking of a company that will leave its mark in dance history.”
Fraga describes its work as being “an emotional tag within an abstract shell.” He says the company does not set out to make emotional dances, but in its construction “there is real human experience and raw emotions. Along with this, there is also the power of partnering, and theatrical work to tie it all together.”
Although Fraga is Latino, he doesn’t consider the work to be Latino themed. “I have no need to create work that deals with my background or label myself or company as a ‘cultural dance company.’ I create work for everyone, and I do not limit myself to what my cultural background is.”
What can the audience expect to experience at this weekend’s Barns performance? “I think the audiences will foremost see the tremendous talent of the dancers,” says Fraga. “Six out of the eight dancers originally worked on this dance back in January 2011, and traveled to NYC to perform it at the Merce Cunningham Studio. I think there is a lot of talent here at the Dance Division at Shenandoah University and I think sometimes people forget about what we are capable of.
“I also think this work is not just your typical dance work: it is more akin to dance theatre which is a very European dance format. I have been interested in this style of creating dance since 2003 when I was dancing with the Montreal dance company, O Vertigo. I feel that with the blend of dance and theatre together, I am able to push my storytelling further and engage the audience in a deeper way than just choreographing abstract dance. I think this is one of the frustrations and problems of attracting new audience members to contemporary dance: it is hard to define or get a concrete story from abstract movement. Unlike words that have direct meaning and power behind them, the use of movement to convey a thought or idea, is hard to explain or understand. Movement has so many ways to be interpreted that it sometimes leaves audiences unsure of what the ‘real meaning’ is, or if they ‘got it.’ With rrrojo, I would like the audiences to experience a slice of what the color red can be seen as.
“I hope that the audiences will allow themselves to just have an experience: there is no real story, but more a sensation that I hope will resonate with all of them.”
Tickets to Ekilibre’s rrrojo are $10 and can be reserved by visiting www.barnsofrosehill.org online or calling 540-955-2004. To learn more about Ekilibre Dance Company, visit www.ekilibre.info online.