Friday, 25 June 2010

Birth Control

What gives a woman an identity? I think that identity is something that most of us seek, and though it can at times make us the same it more often than not drives us apart. Are we restricted by culture, fashion and outside opinions?
What all women can share, if they choose to, is the natural experience of childbirth. According to Kate E Deeming, performer and choreographer of “Birth Control”, it is during labour when a woman finds her true voice.

The pre-show discussion gave me an idea of what I might expect from this work and the audience were chatty and enthusiastic about the issues she had raised concerning identity. Without warning other than “this could get a bit weird”, Kate E’s screaming and groaning silenced me as her piece took form. Initially unaccompanied, I felt a little uneasy watching what looked to be someone giving birth. Perhaps this is because I am not a mother myself, but neither is Kate E, which ironically intrigued me and held my attention. I couldn’t understand why someone could have such a fascination with something they hadn’t experienced themselves but I was soon engrossed.

After an initial feeling of discomfort, the piece transformed into an unidentifiable moving figure, having been re-born and moving freely and fluently. I was struck by the way the suitably-coloured blue scarf hid Kate E’s face, a colour in the past reserved for royalty. My attention was drawn to the movement of the body, the body seeming to move unconnected to the person, exactly as Kate E intended.
I feel that women enjoying their bodies and feeling comfortable and free in the way they move is rare. I left this work-in-progress feeling lifted, free and inspired as a woman.

I am interested to see how this piece develops and into what type of performance. My feeling is that as a theatre/cabaret piece, it doesn’t work in its current form. I feel that more movement by way of an introduction before the birth would be necessary to engage the audience from the start. This way, I think that the audience feel more comfortable in witnessing the intimate and vulnerable movements of the birth. As Kate E said herself, the piece would be suited to film and she will be continuing to work on this piece well into 2011.

Overall, the piece was free and inspiring, once I got over the shock of the initial material! By collaborating with musician Simone Welsh and communicating through instrumental and body percussion, I feel that the piece would appeal to music, dance and art enthusiasts alike. I hope that Kate E continues to develop “Birth Control” with Simone and further investigates how to communicate using the body of the unidentifiable mover.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Journey Dance Company "Prey" Work in Progress

Laura Forbes, artistic director of Journey Dance Company dances in and presents her latest choreographic piece, “Prey” as a work in progress. This sharing, at Dance House was developed further from a previous residency at Dance Base and involves BA dancers from LIPA and Edinburgh’s Telford College, where Laura herself graduated in 2008.

Laura’s ideas developed from natural relationships between predators and prey, her dancers revealing something about themselves in their movements. “Prey” was, to me, a vivid and exciting piece, bringing to the audience the personalities of four individually powerful dancers, who together produced an alluring performance.

With open windows in the Glasgow City Centre Studio, my concern lay with my attention span with so much background noise. I need not have worried. From the moment Jo Jeffries began to slowly explore the space in front of me, I was captured by “Prey”. Laura Forbes’ choreography is mesmerising, she has considered every part of the dancer’s body during each careful choreographic step. Agnes Bell’s light fingers traced the ground with an intricate path along which her body then followed. This style of movement lent itself well to the intimate nature of a studio sharing and I am interested to see how Laura develops such expression for the stage.

Joined by Laura herself and Sophia McGregor, the dancers related beautifully by means of a web-like elastic. This brought another dimension to the piece when Jo entrusted her with the care of this material. My reaction to this was natural, as if we had all been part of the idea in the beginning, a hugely successful outcome to the sharing, whether or not it was a choreographic intention!

I felt each dancer brought their personality to the piece and created four very different characters that could be further developed. Satya Dunning of Dance House discussed development with Laura and suggested that she continue to develop this piece, even after she tours in June. My feelings reflect those of Satya as I think that Laura would enjoy having more time to look into the themes of the piece and continue to develop solo material for her dancers.

Journey Dance Company created, for me, a special bond between the dancers and audience. This is an enchanting piece of contemporary dance, on which I must commend Laura Forbes and her company dancers for putting across so beautifully. I am looking forward to watching this piece grow and adapt to new spaces on its tour.
See “Prey” this month with Foundations Dance Collectives’ tour, “Founding Roots”.