So Good It’s Criminal

2KSquad Puts on First Annual Show “Wanted”

The 2KSquad mixes dance, music, martial arts and more. Photo Eddie Augustin

Montreal is well known for its thriving performing arts community, with everything from concerts, to plays to dance recitals. Rarely, however, can a show successfully bring together all of those elements.

2KSquad is a 67-member collective of performers, and they’re up to the challenge.

Featuring an array of talent, including dancers, singers, martial artists and filmmakers, the group will be performing their first annual show Wanted this week, with the theme of criminals and fugitives on the run.

A little over a year ago, 2KSquad was nothing more than a glimmer in Eddie Augustin’s eye.

“We’ve been involved in shows before, [and] always felt this sadness when the show ended,” Augustin said.

Wanting to create a more permanent crew, Augustin called up friend David Lieu to discuss an idea he had. The two met at a restaurant to talk, and three hours later 2KSquad was born.

Armed with knowledge about planning shows and social media, Augustin and Lieu assembled an initial crew of 13 members before holding open auditions to round out their group, and around 100 people came to try out for the squad.

“We never expected that many people,” said Augustin. “We just had some performances here and there.”

Lieu, a dancer as well as a 2K executive, credits a lot of the initial interest in the group to word-of-mouth and their strong social media presence.

With members ranging in age from 14 to mid-20s, 2KSquad looked for dedication and personality as well as talent. The management team also wasn’t restrictive about what kind of talent they were searching for.

“We have to search for different talents,” said Augustin. “No matter your age, if you can bring something to the crew with your personality and talent, jump in.

“Why not have a martial arts team? Why not have musicians? Why not do films? Let’s just do everything,” he continued.

Augustin, a filmmaker and martial artist himself, lights up when talking about the group’s promotional videos. He produces videos himself for the squad, and believes in maintaining a strong YouTube presence to keep up interest for both fans and performers alike.

The group has a strong Korean pop influence, also known as K-pop, though they don’t limit themselves to one genre in particular.

“You have to appeal to the people that like to watch what you do,” said Lieu.

Augustin agrees that K-pop is a large draw for them, but is quick to point out that that’s not all they do, and hopes that their audience will leave their shows loving the other acts as well.

“Why not have a martial arts team? Why not have musicians? Why not do films? Let’s just do everything” – Eddie Augustin, 2KSquad co-founder

Catch Me If You Can
Nearing the one-year anniversary of their creation, the group is getting ready to pull together their biggest show yet. Wanted was based off an idea that Augustin had been thinking about since his first meeting with Lieu.

“It all came from the idea of having everyone’s profile picture as a wanted poster,” says Augustin.

Lieu describes the concept as a “badass, western-ish concept.” On a larger scale, the theme sees the performers posing as criminals running from the FBI.

Acts are created with the theme in mind, though they’re not restricted by it—the theme merely acts as an anchor to tie the show together cohesively, but allows for creativity.

Members suggest act ideas and management chooses them, with inspiration often drawn from fans’ popular demand.

“We put a post on the 2K Facebook page, a suggestions list,” says Lieu. “We go through the list one by one. We do that until we have a set number of acts we like.”

Practice schedules vary depending on different acts, but collectively the group gets about 20 hours of practice in a week, with occasional impromptu meetings.

Whether they’re working on a show, a video, or practicing, it’s clear that 2K have become a very tight-knit group. Both Augustin and Lieu describe the group as being a sort of family, with their shows and group evaluations serving as family reunions.

It’s a safe space for their performers to have fun and meet people who share their interests.

For Lieu, dancing with 2K isn’t necessarily something he sees turning into a professional venture.

“I personally enjoy performing,” he said. “If something comes out of it, that’d be great, but if not, I’m still happy with it.”

Augustin agrees, and hopes that 2K is something that’ll live on even if he and Lieu have to step away from the project at some point.

“No matter what happens with this, we want to pass it on to other people,” he said. “As long as there’s music, and people to dance well, why not have 2K to dance?

“Whatever happens, that’s just a cherry on top.”

2KSquad: Wanted // Sept. 21 // Pavillon Judith-Jasmin (405 Ste. Catherine St. E. // 7 p.m. // $12 advance, $15 door