48 Points Around the Shoulder (in Shorts)

Samoa House TAP Studio, Auckland

03/03/2017 - 04/03/2017

Auckland Fringe 2017

Production Details

Paul Simon Jackson and Auckland Fringe present:

48 Points Around the Shoulder (in Shorts)

A series of hand positions around the shoulder joint according to a randomly-generated string of co-ordinates. Discrete positions become a pathway through space, inevitably involving the whole body and expanding out into space.

The dance morphs and evolves, gathering new information and building complexity whilst maintaining anchored to its provenance as those original 48 points. The dance is built in front of you; it’s building blocks made clear.

This dance is about the body.

8.15pm daily


Dance , Contemporary dance ,

30 mins

An execution of simplicity

Review by Jesse Quaid 05th Mar 2017

Surfing across an electronic soundtrack, 48 Points Around the Shoulder (in Shorts) unfolds in a methodical manner. An intimate space and small audience, accentuated by the absence of stage lighting, places the performer right there. Together with the performer’s demeanour this evokes the feeling of watching someone through their bedroom mirror.

Paul Simon Jackson enters from the side, carrying himself like a gymnast preparing to compete. He places himself and pauses, perhaps to envision an entirely different space. You can almost see the lines of movement coordinates writing themselves into his vision. As advertised he is wearing shorts, plaid shorts paired with a black singlet, adding to the feeling of voyeurism.

He starts slowly, one gestural position created, held, then returned from. Another position is added, repeated, and joined to create a short sequence. Jackson’s precision is beautiful to watch, verging on inhumanly exact but with a soft edge to his form that alleviates any potential harshness. Cut off visually by the black of his top and constantly in motion his arms acquire their own agency. There is concentration and effort in his actions yet his arms moving in disconnected synchronicity are mesmerising for the audience.

Clear boundaries are defined by the planes within which the limited palette of positions flow. Beside the head, in front of the body, to the sides, never crossing or twisting or reaching to the back. Perhaps there are 48 positions, I’m not sure. As each new point is placed carefully in sequence they start to blend and fold into one another. The legs seem to have their own rules, while sharing the same boundaries. Jackson’s eyes remain fixed beyond the ring of seats.

The energy builds. Exactness of form is maintained as the movements accelerate smoothly, controlled until suddenly it isn’t; a variation on Newton’s Cradle.

Departing from his carefully drawn points and rules Jackson slowly unrolls himself across the floor. He circles the space, spiralling in towards the centre, building towards the possibility of standing again with movements that are frustratingly awkward after the control of what has come before. The constant tone in Jackson’s body seems to be at odds with the shape of the movement, caught between releasing into the floor and clambering across it. The shift in vocabulary is an effective break from potential monotony but its relation to the rest of the work is unclear.

He stands again. Pulled upwards by his right arm. This may be a return to the points but the rules have now changed. The arm movements have loosened and escaped into space dragging Jackson’s body behind them. No longer acting in synchronicity but hinting at canon, they are seemingly an entirely different entity to the dancer being tossed in their wake. This singular duet circles, jerks and runs through the space, accelerating again before a very natural looking trip. And fall.

He leaves, concentration on his own world still complete.

48 Points Around the Shoulder (in Shorts) is an intriguing piece, performed with dedication and introspective concentration. Although the structures still need polishing, and the movement is over indulgent in places, Jackson’s physicality captures the audience. As a whole it seems to be caught between a dispassionate exploration of physical pathways and the conventions of choreography and I am left uncertain if I like it. Nonetheless, it is an interesting idea and an investigation worth watching. 


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