A Place to Stand: Re-framing the Body in Motion

Telecom Playhouse Theatre, WEL Energy Trust Academy of Performing Arts, Hamilton

18/11/2010 - 18/11/2010

Production Details

Karen Barbour and Lisa Perrott with supporting work by Dannielle Jaram, Jenny Spark, Lizzie Dobson and Eli Peters

90 minutes

Engaging films and a strong sense of ritual

Review by Sue Cheesman 01st Dec 2010

A Place to Stand:Re framing the body was a show of experimental digital shorts and a performance held in Hamilton at the Telecom Playhouse theatre within the University of Waikato campus.
Muriwai  by Dannielle Jaram shot in black and white depicts a girl practicing her poi. Through multiply projections many replications of this girl practicing her poi appear one after the other always slightly to the side and behind the central figure. These shadows seem to allude to the presence of guardians, ancestors or tipuna and the concept of space being three- dimensional is challenged. The sound design by Jenny Spark had a realism about it as though it were a live performance of poi.
Highly Strung a film made by Lisa Perrott  is billed as a surrealist psychodrama cleverly depicting a struggle between puppeteer and puppet an allegory of playing with the notions of ‘multiple self ‘. The music by Julie Grace builds the drama to a climax where the strings of the puppet are cut by a large knife. The final image sees the puppet becomes the audience watching the show. I was captivated by this engaging film and wondered which of my selves would win!
Liminal short film by Karen Barbour explores reflections of the dancing body on the floor spliced through with images of Karen performing taken from the perspective of a camera at floor level.  The dancing body moves in and out of focus as the dance film is conceptualized from a dancer’s perspective as opposed to a film makers.
A place to stand a solo contemporary dance performance work choreographed and danced by Karen Barbour had been presented as creative practice research earlier on that day in a contemporary enthnography conference. This work reinforces Karen’s interests in exploring experiences of cultural and personal identity.
There was a strong intertextual interplay between the live performer, animated text, interactive video and recorded music. Through multiple layering the interplay between the dancer on screen and live performer leaves the viewer to choose their focus.
Crouched low Karen is bathed in green light hovering over what maybe a pool as she turns and cups her hands several times followed by an action of pouring over her head.  She stretches her arms to the side reminiscent of the giant wingspan of an albatross.
At this point I found myself drawn to the projected images of historical snippets of past solo performances and the stunning effect that was created through the use of Isadora software. It seemed like the dancers image was encased in a stream of rain like the constant droplets of a waterfall. Often there was a double image and or echo of the movement on screen and live performance in which we viewed in a single moment dual representations of Karen’s grappling with who she is as a woman living in Aotearoa.
Although I recognized many segments from Karen’s previous works the movement content performed live seemed to be very much in chunks and I found it hard to get a sense of overall cohesion.
The stunning final image was created by light beams slicing the space, making an arch which framed Karen as if she was at the intersection of two worlds both Maori and Pakeha. On reflection it seemed to me that all the differing elements evoked a powerful sense of ritual.


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