I Can’t Take My Physique Off by Chewed Pink
Holehead by Oluwaseun Olayiwola
Phrases by Sarah Lapinsky.
It should have been destiny that introduced these two items to premiere at The Place’s Decision pageant on the identical night time of June eighth. Both destiny or some actually glorious programming. I’d have a tough time believing this was only a joyful coincidence when these two works mirrored one another so superbly of their explorations of femininity/masculinity, queerness, tenderness/aggression and intimacy. With their very own distinctive motion types, the works exist in the identical world of marvel and curiosity, resulting in a wealthy contemplation of gender expression made even stronger by their comparability.
Up first, I Can’t Take My Physique Off tackles concepts of femininity and asks what our our bodies are able to that means and the way that that means is constructed. The piece begins with two our bodies rigorously approaching one another in silence earlier than coming into right into a wrestling match. Punctuated by the sounds of their grunts, the 2 performers sporting frilly, white attire insert shocking moments of tenderness between the aggressive pulling, twisting and dropping of one another. Two extra run in to hitch them they usually start a collection of tableaus, demonstrating scenes of quirky aggression entertaining sufficient to elicit amused giggles from the viewers.
After the final black out transition, the 4 are left kneeling as “Blue Velvet” comes over the audio system. To the long-lasting 50s tune describing the singer’s love as an object of need, the dancers brush their shoulders sensually and chunk their fingers whereas additionally distorting their our bodies in again bending contortions and flopping their limbs round within the transitions. In these moments of fracture the unison of the group breaks, as does the picture of the flirtatious lady current for our gaze (did we construct that in our heads or did they?).
This theme of distortion continues as two of the dancers enter a contest of out-doing one another constructing upon a flouncy motion with romantic épaulement to point out off their necks and clavicles. This motion shortly transforms into an excessive, odd leap full with energetic grunts till they bourrée and skip to exit. This part remembers the playfully grotesque harking back to Mary Wigman’s facial expressions and poses in Hexentanz.
At this level within the piece, these performers have displayed a stunning understanding of what they’re doing within the work. The piece continues with the sluggish, peaceable pacing that permits the viewers to soak up the smallest moments. I particularly appreciated the second the place the performers perform armfuls of dress-up robes to plop them on the bottom earlier than enjoying with them. Selecting up the costume, will they put it on and play the position of the girl or drop it and crawl on the bottom like a slug? This piece does an incredible job of preserving the viewers guessing on this exploration of feminine relationships to others and the self.
Holehead picks up the place I Can’t Take My Physique Off leaves off. The viewers re-enters the theatre from our interval to seek out the piece already underway: the stage crammed with haze as three dancers in pink unitards stare down the viewers by way of their sun shades and a fourth, sunglasses-less dancer performs phrases within the again. They move across the glasses, all the time one with out shifting on their very own, as they pose and watch us sit down, a doubtlessly jarring second of witnessing being witnessed however positively an interesting begin. As soon as everybody has settled, the lights dim and a cassette turns over as a dissonant drone sweeps in. The motion is structured and technical and the unitards give the piece a extra formal really feel. The fabric consists of distorted gestures of affection and intimacy and the group intertwines in patterns discovering moments of unison as they sure throughout the stage.
A second that piqued my curiosity was when two dancers ceased rolling on the bottom and located themselves in a recreation of rock, paper, scissors downstage proper subsequent to the viewers. This interplay with the fourth wall is an attention-grabbing theme pointing to questions of perspective and phantasm even when I couldn’t see who received from my seat.
Patterns and motifs like an elbow lifted within the air to disclose the armpit for the viewers are established and constructed upon, and the aggression and play-fighting just like the primary piece display meditations on our perceptions of those relationships. The dancers work together with one another with out clearly defining their roles or connections to one another, however the ambiguity doesn’t poison the concepts. The piece ends with a duet between two dancers after they’ve each pulled down an arm of their unitards. The sun shades return and I need to admit that I do have slightly bother understanding what they now imply on this context, however the tender particulars preserve me as they start to battle and we discover black out.
Total, these two works make nice strides in understanding gender by way of motion. Nicely-composed and considerate, I shall be excited to see how they each develop and if we’re fortunate, maybe we will see them collectively once more sometime!
Header picture by Billy Nisbett.