Bakani Pick-Up Company My dear, time has passed
bun and keity Peeling dough off the floor
Vanessa Guevara XIPETZA
Death and the afterlife are highly complex concepts to represent onstage; particularly in terms of dance which, without getting too morbid here, is temporary, fleeting and always very aware of its own end. Bakani Pick-Up Company’s My dear, time has passed creates a space to explore the events and emotions closest to the human experience, which we only seem to reflect on when nearing death. The choreography fluctuates between moments of lightness and darkness to balance the tone between death and afterlife; dancers meet but rarely touch, their bodies’ last living cells moving erratically, without consciousness before the lights go out.
From death we move onto dance dystopia. Bun and keity’s Peeling dough off the floor is a bricolage of pastel silks, army paraphernalia and a self-destructing washing machine. The work plays two separate realities off one another. On the one hand, it is a comedic dance duo throwing the illusion of performance into the wings; on the other, it is parodying military dress and movement to draw attention to the army’s impenetrable masculinity. This random, pop-culture mash-up is, quite clearly, changing the orders of power. Peeling dough off the floor certainly makes its audiences re-evaluate what ‘dance’ can be.
The final performance transports us to a material reality. What does it mean to be Mexican in the age of Donald Trump? Vanessa Guevara’s solo XIPETZA goes deep into the traditions of Mexico. Her clean, well-documented narrative takes her from proud Mexican, to alienated immigrant mistaken by an innocent child as a maid, a cook, a slave. But her movement fights against these harsh stereotypes. Intricate footwork, staccato positions and fluid turns create this rich dance identity that is wholly Mexican - and not Spanish. Guevara’s feet bring her back to her roots in what is a stunning first solo work that leaves you with an intense feeling of wanting to see, experience and understand more.
Vanessa Guevara’s solo work XIPETZA is a fraught and frequently thrilling study of Mexican identity that conjures all the attendant complications of gender, religion and post-colonial culture with a thoughtful economy and spot-on technique. When Guevara sweeps into a series of spins, her white frilled underskirts in sartorial orbit, it’s a motion that speaks of both proud tradition and unfurling frustration. Zapateado footwork modulates from celebratory assertion into an anxious tremolo of the heel, while the burden of cultural inheritance weighs heavily amongst six emptily expectant chairs, the seats of familial and societal pressure and pleasure. Guevara has the kind of compelling onstage intensity that renders technique almost invisible, an inevitable outpouring of physical thought and emotion. She’s definitely a dancemaker to watch.
While the other two works on the bill are slighter, both choreographically and conceptually, there’s still plenty to enjoy. Bun & keity’s Peeling dough off the floor is a madcap duet involving various contortions of gender and friendship. Clad in a 90s confection of fluffy white crop-top and camouflage trousers, their hair in cutesy pigtails, the dancers (or rather their alter egos Bunny and Kitty) emerge as piss-taking paragons of gender. They morph from hulking Action Man struts to the saccharine pawings of a girly play-fight, replete with kisses and squeals, before Kitty attaches herself to Bunny like a passive-aggressive limpet. Subsequent goings-on involving satin sheets and a big TV screen feel more opaquely freewheeling than genuinely allusive, but the pair’s sustained techno jig is a highlight.
Bakani Pick-Up’s My dear, time has passed – a work for six dancers accompanied by the reverb-heavy stylings of an onstage guitarist – has ambitious aims and demonstrable invention. Bakani’s vision of the afterlife is one of conciliation rather than unknowable oblivion: the dancers’ atomised spools of motion are punctuated by hugs and smiles. A greater focus on drawing out details of line and tighter timing in the ensemble sections would finesse the piece.