BATS Theatre, The Heyday Dome, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

23/07/2019 - 27/07/2019

Production Details

Power is a work in celebration of synchronised dance moves and emotional feminist rants. 

“You should know, I’m the one who’s in control. I’ll let you come take the wheel, long as you don’t forget who got the power.” – Little Mix

We were told pop music is ‘not real music’, that it is trashy, unsophisticated, and definitely not cool. We think this is bulls**t. It’s not our guilty pleasure, it’s just our pleasure. In defense of all that is girl pop, we are offering a tribute to UK pop sensation Little Mix. Alongside this we will share our own stories of heartbreak, frustration, and the ongoing struggles of living in this patriarchal weirdo world.

Through hip thrusts, storytelling and a soundtrack of bangers, Power will search for a way to hold the multiple, contradictory feelings that run through our bodies: traumas from our past, hopes for our futures, and the chaos of our now.

For the love of pop and the destruction of the patriarchy. This is Power. It will be unapologetically honest, righteously angry and fucking fun.

BATS Theatre The Heyday Dome, Wellington
23-27 of July 2019
Tickets range in price from $15-$20
available from bats.co.nz 

Theatre , Dance-theatre ,

Glee, abandon, exuberance, empowerment

Review by Sam Trubridge 24th Jul 2019

POWER is a glammy girly mixtape mashup of power-ballads alternated with verbatim accounts of the challenges and joys of being a woman. It is told by four performers – Talia Carlisle, Sara Cowdell, Emma Maguire and Elizabeth Connor – dressed in coral pink spandex and denim, with a bit of print. These costumes both expose and protect their bodies in equal measure. Chiffon and jackboots communicate both a toughness and a sensuality. Between dancing to songs they take it in turns to relate accounts of family witchcraft, working in all-male offices, Sheela-na-gig, sexual harrassment, aging, TED talks, rebellious great-grandmothers, being bisexual in Gisborne, first times, self-discovery, and managing pub-crawls in Berlin. Sometimes I wince at what they reveal, sometimes I avert my gaze, and at other times I clap and cheer them on as they dance, groove and vogue to greats by UK pop-group and X Factor winners Little Mix (‘Just a Touch of your Love’, ‘Black Magic’, ‘Strip’, among others).

At one point a fifth performer (Hanah Gease) joins them from the wings and takes her clothes off to lines like “take off all my makeup / cos I love what’s under it”. It confuses me at first. Weren’t the other performers already revealing more through their words? Does it diminish the vulnerability shared through the storytelling by appointing a fifth performer to expose their body? Maybe. Or maybe not.

A lot of the motivation in POWER seems to be that of reclaiming the female body and its actions for women, and less about my own concerns for propriety or political correctness as a male reviewer. So instead of following the traditional line of the male gaze in scenarios like this, I watch the expressions on the girls’ faces, taking in their shared glee and abandon. There is in all of their dance sequences (choreographed by Joanne Hobern & Veronica Butturini) an exuberance in moving your own body, enjoying it for yourself, and sharing that joy with your friends. I am reminded of how recent political statements have characterised this all female ‘squad’ as a threat to old male systems and conservative agendas. I also think of how male bodies are seldom this expressive or uninhibited together, except in gay culture. So there is a lot to process within this simple format of contrasting jubilant dance with heartbreaking confessional.

Power is a dynamic that is explored in each of the stories that are told; and whether that power is taken away or reclaimed within each story, the act of telling those stories and dancing like this constitutes an empowerment and a taking back of those stories. Director Sara Cowdell’s final address reads as a powerful threat as she looks us in the eyes over the opened pages of her notebook – calling in the changes of power that are occurring around the world.


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