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Thursday, July 18, 2024

Dance review: BODYTRAFFIC has a strong sense of heart

It’s hard not to gush about BODYTRAFFIC. This company from Los Angeles are a skilled and heartful ensemble of dancers who are bringing new life to contemporary dance.

Their presentation at the Chutzpah! Festival included four pieces: The New 45, Kollide, A Trick of the Light, and Once again, before you go. Each one incredibly distinct in its look, feel, and spirit, after each piece I felt sure there was no way they could top what they had just done. There seems to be no limit to what BODYTRAFFIC can do.

What makes BODYTRAFFIC so distinct is the strong sense of heart in their work. These dancers are true performers, committing fully to the work, and to each other. There was also a clear sense that they have done a lot of work to build their relationships as an ensemble. The connections between the dancers were palpable and dynamic.

Beginning the night is The New 45, choreographed by Richard Siegal. Set to scratchy old jazz hits, The New 45 is a light-hearted, sassy, and fun throwback to old Broadway-style jazz with a contemporary twist. Siegal and the dancers managed to create incredibly tight, precise, choreography that still feels completely spontaneous. The joy was infectious – I instantly wanted to be in on their fun and would have happily spent an entire evening hanging out with the characters in this piece.

Kollide provided the first total change of pace of the night. A slow and sensual piece by Kyle Abraham dealing with seduction, rejection, and ever-shifting relationships between the dancers, this is where their strong ensemble work was most apparent. Their connections were so powerful that you could instantly sense a change in the dynamic between the dancers on stage when someone new entered. Their movements were slow and sweet, drenched in honey.

When the lights came up on A Trick of the Light (choreography by Joshua L. Peugh), I let out an involuntary “awww”, and that impulse stuck around the entire piece. Styled like a retro formal dance, this piece begins with a girl desperately trying to get a boy to dance with her while the other dancers sway together around them, coupling and uncoupling in unconventional ways. It’s a sweet and funny vintage-style dance with a lightness and nostalgia that is irresistible.

The final piece of the night was Once again, before you go. If forced to choose, I would say that this was the weakest point of the night, but not due to any lack on choreographer Victor Quijada’s part. He invited us into a world that feels something like an underground resistance movement in a dystopian novel, and the choreography was interesting and dynamic. This was simply the only point of the night where the dancers seemed to be merely executing the movements, instead of living them as they had everything else.

That said, as far as weaknesses go, Once again, before you go was still very strong and had captivating moments. If it had not been presented against so many powerful, immersive works, it could very well have been a highlight on its own.

Tonight (Sunday, March 8) is the last chance to see BODYTRAFFIC at the Chutzpah! Festival, so if you can make it, please do yourself a favour and go. Visit for tickets and information. Otherwise, consider a trip to LA in your future – this company is worth the effort.

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