Lisa Gelley Martin on Working In New Ways

Company 605 co-artistic director, Lisa Gelley Martin, talks name change from collective to company, the concept of connectedness, and how the title of the new work, Vital Few,  relates to the Pareto Principle.

DanceWorks: Company 605 recently had a name change. Can you explain why?

Lisa Gelley Martin: We were ‘605 Collective’ because we originally started out as a collective in 2006, just a small group of five emerging artists who came together informally to dance in a shared creative processes. While the collaborative culture and mentality is still embedded in all that we do, we felt it necessary to update the name to acknowledge where we are now. Over the years, many artists of the original collective have branched out and started their own amazing work and companies. Josh and I remain as the two co-artistic directors of 605 which, in reality, has actually been functioning as a company for quite some time now. It seemed like it was the right time to formally recognize the evolution that has occurred over the past 10 years, and embrace the fact we’re not the same thing as when we started.

DanceWorks: Can you describe the inspiration for Vital Few?

Lisa Gelley Martin: Inspiration for the work came from our desire to find a new way of working, more specifically around how we define and arrive at the idea of togetherness, as so much of what we are interested in, weaves together the contribution of the individual with the strength of an ensemble. During our last creation, Inheritor Album, we stumbled upon some concepts of connectedness that really intrigued us, all surrounding the linking of each dancers’ personal movement to one another. We wanted to dig further into these ideas as a separate exploration and piece.

The title Vital Few is a reference to the Pareto principle (or the 80-20 rule), which deals with looking at cause and effect within groups, and how at any given moment there are key individuals who can greatly affect its functionality. On a personal level, we think about the necessity of these people we share the work with, and how each role is crucial to one another. Throughout the process we ask ourselves “what is vital?” and it is a simple reminder to be clear and intentional. We hope that audiences identify what is integral for them to experience the work and connection between each person on stage.

DanceWorks:  Vital Few explores group dynamics. Can you describe the ways in which you collaborated with your dancers, while still maintaining the vision you and Josh Martin set out for the work?

Lisa Gelley Martin: We asked for extensive movement contributions from our dancers throughout the process.  The movement was developed from heavily scored group improvisations and through building individual material within specific tasks/parameters (and then sometimes transposed through many other bodies), which Josh and I would mold and shape towards the “bigger vision”. It is important to us that each person brings their own uniqueness and personality to enliven the structures we create. The dancers have been extremely generous in allowing Josh and I to build from the material and language they brought to the table. We wanted this complexity, and we wanted to see that collaboration live on stage. We are continuously chipping away at the movement each rehearsal and performance, and the dancers are always adapting and revamping their contributions as the piece continues to develop.

Vital Few runs one night in Toronto, on Saturday May 7 at the Fleck Dance Theatre (at Harbourfront Centre). Tickets are available at the Fleck Dance Theatre Box Office. Promo code CULTUREBREAK available to students (of any age!) and anyone under 25 years of age, for $15.00 tickets.


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