Ballet and street dancing don’t often take the stage as one. And yet, at an open audition for local street-based dance group Ouro Collective, emerging contemporary dancer Shana Ai Wolfe felt an instant connection—even though she was surrounded by hip-hoppers, waackers and breakdancers. “Figuring out how to communicate with them didn’t actually feel like a barrier to cross, because we are all dancers and movers,” explains Wolfe. “We speak the same language.”

Shana Ai WolfeShana Ai Wolfe. (Credit: Abhishek Joshi)

It’s a language Wolfe grew up fluent in. As a teen, she completed Arts Umbrella’s half-day training program (meaning she spent mornings hunkered down in high school and afternoons sweating it out at the studio). “Dance has always been the lens through which I see the world,” she says. “My body craves movement.” She did another two years of post-secondary training with Arts Umbrella and a season apprenticing with Ballet BC before taking a brief hiatus to live in Japan, and once she returned to Vancouver she joined Ouro Collective.

The collective is made up of artists from all across the dance spectrum. “Our choreography always has a lot of group work, but not necessarily unison,” Wolfe says. Even so, there’s a harmony created by each dancer showcasing their unique skills: she describes their collective movement as “inventive and engaging.” What seem like opposite arts thrive together, and the whole is greater than the sum of its parts in the most spectacular way.

Ouro Collective's next show runs June 16 to 18 at the Roundhouse. Called 7y98D, the performance is choreographed by street dance-based artist RubberLegz and tackles the effects and impact of climate change. Get your tickets here.

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