Behind big, black gothic doors of the XBa studio space in South Surrey, throbbing industrial music fuels the edgy, in-your-face movements of five female dancers, each dressed in skin-tight pleather outfits.
The sprung dance floor in the 3,000square-foot "black box" space heaves a little as the dancers work up a sweat under the direction of
Nela Hallwas, piecing together the second-season show of Diskordanse, a professional dance company she runs at her XBa studio.
The company's Dislokation: Layer Three will be performed on three May dates at Surrey Arts Centre, the same Bear Creek Park venue for XBa's "Celebration of Dance" showcase event next Friday, Feb. 22.
The Diskordanse company is an extension of teachings at XBa (pronounced "EX-ba"), which Hallwas opened at a building on King George Boulevard in 2001; six years ago, XBa moved to its current home on 152nd Street, just south of 20th Avenue.
"The whole purpose behind Diskordanse is to create a professional, working dance company, to give dancers paid work," Hallwas explained during rehearsal on a recent Monday night. "One of the reasons XBa is different is we don't stop teaching kids when they hit Grade 12 or whatever, which happens at some other studios - that's it, no more, they graduate, they're gone. We propagate, keep them dancing and moving, and for those who want to work in dance, we've created Diskordanse for that."
The company's six dancers - Skye Ferguson, Kerri Zanussi, Carolyn Zaruk, Shelby Peluso, Amadea Hallwas and Melissa Partridge - are paid for hours worked, including rehearsal time. Sponsors help pay the tab, and Hallwas is eager for more to sign on, to help keep dance alive in Surrey.
"I'm a big advocate of arts for profit, and I think it's absolutely doable," Hallwas said. "Art can be a person's work, their employment, and it's amazing how many artists must have a 'day job' and that they wish their art could put food in their bellies. I'm lucky, because I had a 'real' job for just three months, back in 1982 - that's it.
I made the arts my life; I made it happen because I believe in it so much. But I did have to prove myself."
Hallwas immigrated to Canada in 1967 from her native Yugoslavia, settling for a time in Montreal before moving to California, Vancouver and, since 1998, the Crescent Beach area of Surrey. Early in life, she studied dance, and later got into film and video work.
For the Dislokation series, projected images of dancers - "raw and pure movement" - are key to the performance, along with show-specific music composed by Oleksa Lozowchuk, a Surrey resident.
The dance moves have been given colourful names such as Fish Flop, Orange Slice, Dead Rat and Head Jerk.
"Our mission is to make the audience uncomfortable," Hallwas emphasized. "When we did the first part of Dislokation last spring (at Shadbolt Centre for the Arts in Burnaby), the dancers would occasionally trespass into the audience, just to make them a bit uncomfortable.. It's modern, contemporary dance. That's what we're about."
As for next Friday's "Celebration of Dance," XBa students bring contemporary dance to the stage at Surrey Arts Centre, in a multicultural merger with Serbian folk dance group Zavicaj! and students from Keri's Scottish Highland Dance. Show times are at 5: 30 and 8: 30 p.m.; call 604-501-5566. firstname.lastname@example.org