Bridget Lappin enters the space, puts a tape in one of those archaic recorders and presses play. The bleak and oblique messages from her past self to her present self, reveal how the impact of listening to a recorded message, alone in a room, can drive you to do crazy things. And it does. After sighing and looking searchingly at her audience, Lappin throws herself into a tightly organised but wildly expressive chair dance, followed by a manic jig in which she abandons herself to the pleasures of eclectic athleticism. She’s an intense and captivating woman to watch and while her brave, long solo is fragmented and unfinished, she sweeps us along with intrigue on her soul searching journey.
There’s more questioning in Thomas Page Dances’ Aporia, this time around the perplexing relationship between peace and conflict and how we as humans are implicated in it. Actor Annika Kordes stoically narrates a text about this in competition with harsh electronic music while the four dancers interact through duets of love and hate, tenderness and violence. Sophisticated geometric lighting and chic, space-explorer costumes frame some stunning movement but there’s an ambivalence towards what they are trying to communicate and they leave us in the dark.
Viva La Vulva, Jay Yule’s celebratory reclamation (from patriarchal control) of the vulva, brings a delightful woman focused climax to the evening. Yule and Ronja Kasemi explore the delicacies of vulvas through their manipulation of tomatoes and a grapefruit. Then dressing up in fantastic garments that suggest the fleshy layers of female genitalia both pursue orgasmic states through a variety of comical side steps, suggestive floor work and vocal utterances. Touchingly innocent in their display of female masturbation the pair at times look a little awkward but they still deliver though their humorous and inventive endeavours, an important message about attitudes towards this precious female part. If you still don’t get it, a beautifully illustrated zine accompanies their performance.
Bridget Lappin began with her solo; a chair, table and tape recorder inhabited the space. The tape provided an eerie accompaniment, a pre-recorded speech of a woman detailing her struggle with identity. The words were physicalised by Bridget, initially with a rather aggressive sequence of gestures she performed in the chair. The frantic pulling and slapping, interrupted occasionally by suspended reaches, suggested a difficult relationship with herself that was played out in the highs and lows of the sequences that followed. The piece was endearing in its vulnerability and whilst the narrative was dislocated, Bridget’s vivid presence and ability to convey emotion in the subtlest of movements, ensured it always remained engaging.
Thomas Page Dances explored the enigmatic definition of human nature. The loose white clothing combined with the building, electronic accompaniment and suspicious glares shot between dancers, gave the piece a tense, almost dystopian feel. Intricate duets, that flitted between aggressive throws and caring supports, reflected the contradictory elements of human nature beautifully. Definitions of the human condition were voiced by Annika Kordes throughout, however her voice was often swallowed up by the intense music. A restless piece that refused to let the audience settle, linking nicely to its central question; can we ever truly find peace?
Jay Yule’s piece came with a beautifully illustrated zine containing essays inspired by female genitalia. The piece itself began abstractly, with the two dancers consuming vagina-esque fruit in little boxes of light accompanied by slurping sounds. They then put on absurdly frilly dresses and stood, swaying like little girls, in silence. Humorous awkwardness emanated from the two figures, and giggles erupted sporadically from the audience as a result. The pair then began creating noises, playfully mirroring each other and coming up with obscene ways to travel around the space. Something as simple as the change of their pitch, accompanied by ridiculous body shaping, was subtly hilarious and seemed a caricature of femininity. Wonderfully witty and unexpected; an interesting consideration of the performativity of gender and female orgasm.