The Collective

Go deep inside the creation of a powerful new dance work, with 605 Collective

605 Collective is a Vancouver-based dance company dedicated to producing new dance through a shared creative process. This brief look inside of the creative process for 605 Collective’s newest work-in-progress explores the complex task of finding the ensemble while celebrating individuality.

"We kind of see it as a moving sculpture."

This video is part of The Collective, a CBC Arts digital project that invites artists to tell their own stories. Learn more about the project, and watch more Collective videos

Collective: 605 Collective
Film: Moving Conversations
Synopsis: This brief look inside of the creative process for 605 Collective's newest work-in-progress explores the complex task of finding the ensemble while celebrating individuality. From studio to stage, the piece is a conversation in motion, with a diverse physical language woven together from the movement vocabularies of each distinct performer.

Vancouver's 605 Collective sits at the opposite end of the spectrum from the kind of tyrannical ballet troupes you see in the movies. The dance company's pieces grow out of a highly collaborative creative process, one that honours the varying dance backgrounds of its members. In their Collective video, the group brings the viewer along to witness that process, from studio to stage, as they put together their latest work, Vital Few.

Here's what the company's co-artistic director Josh Martin had to say about the collective and their video.

How would you describe 605 Collective's approach to dance?
When 605 Collective began in the fall of 2006, it was basically just a group of dance artists who met to train together and teach each other. Initially, we were very focused on a sort of "movement invention" — trying to create a vocabulary of movement that spoke to all of our different dance backgrounds.

Now, it's really about developing new ideas. We try to use the collective as a means to push outside of our usual personal zones of dance-making. We build projects that allow us to work with many different artists, all of whom bring their own unique style and personality inside of the pieces we're making. Everyone who's involved becomes kind of a co-creator.

In this video, you talk about finding a "new" kind of unison by complementing, rather than matching, each others' movement. What's the philosophy behind that approach?
605 Collective is recognized for its strong unison movement, which is a really great tool for uniting a group of people in dance. But for this dance, we wanted to play with the question of what unison is. Do we need to all be identical for it to feel like we are being moved by the same force, or linking into the same momentum? It's possible for the viewer to see us as one unit, without us all having to move identically. We kind of see it as a moving sculpture in a way. Everyone fits in as an important puzzle piece. It creates something that's perhaps more alive to the eye.

At one point in the video, one of your members talks about how the movements change each time the dance is performed. Is the whole thing improvised?
There are things that we know are always going to happen the same; and there are other aspects of the work that will change every single night. The idea is that everyone is kind of trying to compose in the moment. If one person dances it a little bit differently, or if they choose a different gesture or movement, then you have to respond to that. We're trying to keep the dance very alive and in-the-moment; as opposed to setting a piece of choreography that's going to be the same every time.

Can a group of dancers really create a piece together, or does one person have to take the lead?
Some form of leadership is always necessary; but it doesn't have to be the same leader. What we like about this work is that, because of the parameters we've put on it, this idea of leadership just kind of floats around. We try and keep it as open as possible to everybody's input. There are moments throughout the work where you can really get a sense of who's driving the movement, and who's following. I think that relationship is crucial to any group existing or finding a shared voice.

How does that approach change the experience for the dancers — and for the audience?
Everybody is vital to each other in this performance. We hope viewers will be able to pick up on that. We want people to really see the interactions and relationships between the dancers onstage. Because I think that in other choreographies where we're just doing what we've practiced, perfectly — then you kind of lose that sense of togetherness and relationship in a way.

More about the 605 Collective

605 Collective is a Vancouver-based dance company dedicated to producing innovative contemporary dance works through a shared creative process. Led by Lisa Gelley and Josh Martin, the company is an ongoing and ever-evolving collaboration, bringing together many different artists to create a highly athletic artform derived from the human experience.

Follow 605 Collective on FacebookTwitter and Instagram, and watch more of their work on Vimeo.


Sophia Wolfe and 605 Collective

Sophia Wolfe

Original Music
Gabriel Saloman

David Cooper and Sophia Wolfe

605 Collective

Dance Direction
Lisa Gelley and Josh Martin

Featured Performers
Hayden Fong
Lisa Gelley
Josh Martin
Odile-Amélie Peters
Jane Osborne
Jessica Wilkie                   

Project Consultant
Brian Johnson

Thanks to
The Dance Centre
Vancouver International Dance Festival


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?