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Our Executive Director Mirna Zagar provides some insights into Montreal choreographer Alexandra ‘Spicey’ Landé and her company Ebnflōh, coming to Vancouver as part of our Global Dance Connections series December 7-9.
How did you first hear about Alexandra ‘Spicey’ Landé and her company Ebnflōh?
I first came across Alexandra through our ongoing exchanges with partners in Montreal, notably Circuit-Est Centre Chorégraphique where today Ebnflōh is a member company. When she founded the company in 2015 I remember thinking it will be interesting to see how this ambitious new hip hop company would make its mark, and how her work would evolve. Hip hop companies do not always have a long life, in spite of the form itself stemming from a resilient spirit of protest and resistance, so I was thrilled to see that Ebnflōh has continued to flourish and produce uncompromising works.
We connected again at Tanzmesse in Germany in 2022, where there was a strong focus on Canadian dance and many Canadian artists present, and I had the chance to experience the work live! I missed the company when they came to Dancing on the Edge last year unfortunately, but by all accounts they made a great impact on audiences.
How would you describe Ebnflōh’s work – how is it distinctive?
My immediate response is that it is uncompromising. It is demanding of the dancers as performers, but it also brings forth the rawness of hip hop as an urban, street, form and this is often (I find) very difficult to achieve when you transpose the form onto the stage, or into a performance venue.
As with other works we present, Ebnflōh and Alexandra’s approach goes beyond what we see on stage, and aims to engage. Drawing the audience into the work. Asserting the power of dance and art to express social and political issues that are individual, local, but firmly globally contextualized. Exploring the human psyche. Asserting that dance is more than what thrills us when we watch virtuoso dancers. Not mystifying but revealing our deepest emotions that are of a very broad range. The layering of it all.
This is what I personally admire in artistic work. It remains vulnerable, it asks audiences to be active participants not just observers (no they will not ask you to dance!). Alexandra utilizes the full potential of collaboration with the performers and garners the power of visual arts, video in particular, to transform spaces, our minds, our perceptions.
That is what makes the work stand out – it is captivating on so many levels!
What kind of show is La Probabilité du Néant (The Probability of Nothingness)?
This is a work rooted in hip hop but also other street dance, krumping for example. It is one of Ebnflōh’s most ambitious works to date, highlighting eight virtuoso dancers. Alexandra explores the human psyche: here she is inspired by the “bystander effect”. We can all relate to this phenomenon. How do we react to things we observe around us? By inaction do we remain simply a witness, or do we become an accomplice? We see this in the increasing global antagonism we have been seeing in recent years, with so many voices silenced, or keeping silent while opening the door to a darkness.
The work, through visual transformations of the space, challenges our sense of perception, but also our judgement and the consequences of our choices. At the same time it reminds us of the human capacity for resistance and resilience.
What made you bring this show to Vancouver?
La Probabilité du Néant is an artful masterpiece of carefully constructed and excellently executed dance. I love how it brings the many elements together, the layering. More importantly, considering the context, this work aims to wake us up. Shake us. Remind us that we all have a role to play in the shaping of the world and society we live in. Not just an opportunity, but a responsibility. So what do we do with that?
Following Tanzmesse, we started working to bring the company back to Vancouver, and I am very happy we were able to do so.
The Dance Centre presents the Global Dance Connections Series
Ebnflōh: La Probabilité du Néant (The Probability of Nothingness)
December 7-9, 2023 | 8pm
Scotiabank Dance Centre
Explore dance performances currently presented by The Dance Centre. Each season, you’ll find new dance shows. See what’s on today.
Photos: Melika Dez and Shaleen Ladha