It was an evening of storytelling and striking imagery. Whether it was the incredibly lifelike animal masks of RedTape Dance Company, Hannah Buckley’s smashing of golden eggs (Oh the tech crew!) or Rachel Burn’s willowy balloons tied to shoes, the theatre was rife with visual stimulus.
RedTape Dance Company ignited the evening by introducing the partnership of a cat and dog in Pensar é Destruir, and the simplistic and systematic choreography they engaged in is perhaps exactly what animals do when left alone. With the masks off, the dancers (Maria Cassar and Fabio Filipe) were thrust into the reality of being human—at first playful and experimental, the pair (with a believable chemistry) became increasingly flirtatious and calculated, and they succeeded in presenting the juxtaposition between human and animal existence.
Hannah Buckley brilliantly wove together tales, movement and metaphors of the desire for motherhood or the choice to stray far from it. Woman with Eggs was both highly humorous and achingly poignant; as the recital and recordings of real interviews depicted the unique honesty found only in seven and 90 year olds. Her vibrant presence and quirky aesthetic brought to life multiple characters and I was sad to see it end.
Happening delved much more into the abstract art of role-playing. Rachel Burn presented an impressive amount of choreography made for the arms and hands, and the dancers executed the patterns beautifully. Though much of the interpretation eluded me, I did enjoy the moment of ‘small dance’, representative of the self-conscious bee-bop seen throughout various social settings.
The EDge postgraduate dance company teased the storytelling thread into the second interval with choreography fabricated from pre-performance conversations with audience members, and they did not disappoint the packed lobby staircase.
A few minutes in to RedTape Dance Company’s Pensar é Destruir and something odd is happening. I’m starting to think that I’m watching a real cat dancing, not – as logic would dictate – a woman wearing a cat mask. It’s something in the cats’ eyes, defying me not to take what I’m seeing at face value. As a dramatic conceit, Maria Cassar and Fabio Filipe’s decision to don animal masks – she’s the cat, he’s a dog – works a treat. Inspired by a poem by Fernando Pessoa, the duo explored the notion of masks making us who we are. Once the masks came off, they struggled to function, then gradually built the confidence to be who they are. It was a simple idea and, though the piece felt slightly unfinished, it was neatly pulled off.
Hannah Buckley’s Woman With Eggs began inauspiciously, a woman hunched on the floor, trapped in some opaque moment of anxiety. But this was no navel-gazing solo: once Buckley made it to the microphone, she emerged as a slyly witty comic performer. Whipping up an omelette that included her Nan’s thoughts on womanhood, a Kate Bush cover and a bowl of golden eggs – a telling symbol of fertility. Buckley mounted an amusing challenge to the terrorism of children. Her message? There’s more to life than having kids, a timely one for these babycentric times.
There were assorted stories in the mix of Rachel Burn’s Happening too, but where Buckley found a cohesive voice for her disparate elements, it was hard to see what Burn was trying to communicate. She had four dancers at her command, the dance style leaning heavily on gestural sign language as they set about the task of shifting light-filled balloons attached to shoes around the stage. The imagery was striking, but personal connection to the stories being portrayed only fitfully filtered through. Sometimes, less is more.