Never has the authentic woman felt so superior than in Elefantin’s ironic celebration of Barbie’s sixtieth birthday. What better way to subvert her reining body image than have Alessia Ruffolo and Cree Barnett Williams totter about precariously on invisible heels and attempt to put on sunglasses without opposable thumbs? Side-splitting exclamations of ‘I love being a fashion model’ and images of constructed femininity are smashed by contorting red lips and hands on inner thighs in what seems like a ghastly attack of cystitis. All is not perfect in plastic Barbie world! But in their striped corsets and peroxide blonde wigs they attract human sympathy for their aging predicament and the individual who seems just as floundering as the rest of us. Barnett Williams nails the dance-theatre-satire genre; I eagerly anticipate her next venture.
I’m tempted to promote TBC: To be Connected’s voiceover ‘switch off your Wi-Fi to establish a connection’ as a mantra, or perhaps even a lifeline, for our modern, impersonal and disconnected lives. Gerrard Martin and Vanessa Abreu’s torsos convulse in two separate shafts of white light as though wired to an electrical circuit but not to each other. Despite intermittent moments of hugging and weight-sharing, loneliness prevails and with it comes our awkward viewing of their solo sexual release from frustration. I find the disjunction of choreographic elements doesn’t quite match the conviction of the verbal message; am I supposed to feel connected or disconnected to the performers?
Alex Paton’s Gaelic melodies and Taylor Han’s responsive swings and releases spark lively and appreciative interjections from Scottish audience members in With Catastrophic Consequences. Dancer and musician invite spectator unwittingly into their creative embrace and consider everyone a collaborator in their structured improvisation. There is charm in the musical cliff-hangers, Paton’s trumpet sending Han flying into backbends and the attempt to teach each other their respective art forms (the result of which clearly inspired the title). Though wholesome in atmosphere, it doesn’t quite avoid the trap of repetitive movement into which improvisatory pieces often fall. Admirable for audience engagement, if rather short on choreographic variation.
February has arrived at Resolution presenting shapes of connections: with ourselves, with each other and with the society around us.
With Catastrophic Consequences is a conversation about how music and dance can work together as supportive ways of expression. To the sound of the multi-instrumentalist Alex Patron, the dancer and choreographer Taylor Han establishes a dialogue that relies on improvisation to open up endless possibilities of collaboration. They play with each other while exploring what moves them, how they react when they switch roles and how they follow one another to create a common language – a speech made of live music and joyful movement that warms the space.
As two dancers emerge from opposite sides, wrapped up in red ropes, an echo of ‘I am afraid you have lost your connection’ seems to exasperate them. They keep trying to set themselves free while an attempt at a phone call mixes English and Portuguese words. Where is the link between them? We figure it out when they finally meet each other in an affectionate and synchronized duet that tends to be interrupted by their stressful shaking and individual distractions. In TBC: To Be Connected, Gerrard Martin performs with Vanessa Abreu an intense manifesto that contrasts alienation and proximity to reveal human relations nowadays.
The female figure and its social expectations were the main topics of the satire piece ELEFANTIN by Cree Barnett Williams. Inspired by the image of the iconic Barbie, two dancers give the audience their best catwalk pose while saying ‘I love being a fashion model’. This bubbly atmosphere is interrupted by vigorous, masculine images that they create to distance themselves from the doll figure. Euphoria takes control with messy steps and grotesque facial expressions - they are humans after all (who do not actually love being fashion models).