March 11, 2024

Comment on review of “Only the Stars Know Where I’ve Been” – Strange imaginings, otherworldly atmosphere

Only the Stars know where I’ve been. Performed by Ctenophora and Collaborators.
March 5-9th March 2024, Basement Theatre, Auckland.
Written by Megan Seawright. (COI: mother of dancer Stella Grace Seawright)

Chorographer: Jake Starrs
Dancers: Stella Grace Seawright, Sydney Magnus
Dramaturgy and Producer: Jane Smolira
Lighting and Sound: Grace Bella
Composer: Hugo Bulter

The recent five night showing of Only the Stars know where I’ve been at Basement Theatre’s upstairs studio, Auckland, has been met by audiences with a gentle astonishment for the other worldly androgynously pitched duet, choregraphed by Jake Starrs and collaborators.
Multiple themes present, widely exploring transformations of self; how one’s life separates, plays with departures, and self-repatriation.
The work generates its focus through slowed and emotionally driven movement suspensions alongside frantic specificities exposing the certain snapping’s that occur when one is surprised by growth and unfolding. Absorbing moments set with ‘star dust’ like sprinklings such as recurrent sequences ground the work in its own language.
Starrs synopsis references the terrains of queer temporality, and this work contributes into the current evolving cannon of queer contemporary performance discourse, through movement ideas realised by collective and individual experience, thus the journey of this work is set.
There were multiple moments, sheer and beautifully paused where the rippling physicality of dancers Seawright and Magnus’s held us. Delightful and delicate at times the duet melded in hand and finger gestures minutely timed and pushing us with intimacy and quiver.
Larger sequences and solos lead the human fraternity between us all in this space-realm work.
We recognize the self-fractures – it is a very human experience, and we feel its plausible pathways of return. The pauses along the way in this performance give viewers time and accordingly at times the dancers themselves are the watchers.
What I loved about this work, is the dedication to details; the crew, the slide of a black velvet hand removing props, and the introduction of personified objects – the woolen trench coat, a psychological replacement of self when we’ve tossed away perhaps what could have held onto. There are vibrational elements that convey a sense of concern, a risk to be restrained to the present and back into perseverance.
At times, it feels like the room shifts into a reservoir of sadness, it’s an emotion that quickly lifts with the many emotional geographies that shift across the work, a tell to the unique perceptivity of the world, and what it takes to walk your own walk from Ctenophora and co collectively.
A beautiful and aesthetically styled work from costumes to specifically composed music and enhancing lighting. Thoroughness has been offered to each component of the performance. The dancers are attentive, uprising energy and meditation in turns, reflecting the labors a considered chorographic process.
At the end, we are left feeling saturated, having been folded into a dream like vista, this surreal travel affecting our inner common humanity and a delight to view.

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