Too Solo Show
22/06/2012 - 23/06/2012
Choreographers Anna Bate & Zahra Killeen-Chance come together to present: Too Solo Show /a show of two solos.
Project B: the fic
By Anna Bate
A lone figure saturates itself in a densely layered atmosphere and navigates its’ way through a terrain of invisible materiality. Through its’ actions it reveals an environment that is governed by differing physical laws to our own.
This is a super sensitive experimental dance work that plays with displacing the hierarchy between cause and affect.
Is That Her
By Zahra Killeen-Chance
She presents herself in body, in voice, in film, in movement, which steers her towards and away from endings of innocence and illusion.
The Basement Theatre Studio
Lower Greys Ave
Friday 22nd & Saturday 23rd June
Brilliance, parody and perplexity
Review by val smith 27th Jun 2012
Extreme entertainment DIY style, Too Solo Show presents the sharp wit and intelligence of Anna Bate’s Project B: the fic followed by a rich intertextual composition by Zahra Killeen-Chance Is That Her. Performed in the upstairs space in The Basement Theatre, June 22nd & 23rd, with a very basic setup, Too Solo Show has a welcome focus on the choreography itself. The Too Solo Show doesn’t somuch investigate the solo condition in performance, as the title may suggest, rather, the two choreographies address in different manners very human conditions. Project B: the fic is a hive of human complexity that plays with and layers a make-believe scenography commenting on the power of the imagination as a performance tool. Whereas, IsThat Her makes oblique reference to processes of coming to terms with loss and the illusory nature of self, life and youth in a compositional work of self discovery.
The alignment of Anna Bate & Zahra Killeen-Chance for this project sees a development in the local performance community where independent artists are working together in different ways to make possible the production of performance events in a low to no budget condition. Artists are working together using a variety of collaborative processes including a kind of mix-up and overlay of the artists’ individual material such as in HINE-2012 with Tru Paraha and Cat Ruka, a co-creation of the material seen in So You Think You Can Idolise my X-Factor !!!!(!)!!!! with Kristian Larsen and Josh Rutter, or, in the case of Too Solo Show, presenting distinct works alongside each other (back to back). Whilst made independently, in the context of Too Solo Show, the two choreographies by Anna and Zahra are framed in relationship to each other which lends itself to a comparison of the artists’ styles of working, revealing similarities and differences.
Similarities include a very physical approach to movement investigation and an inclination for parody – seen in Zahra’s dark and twisted life stories and in Anna’s artistry of fakeness, as a genius of the ludicrous. The difference between the works though, is in their attention to content and composition. Project B: the fic, presents a thickening of content where levels of meaning and material are disrupted and questioned. The composition of Anna’s work seems secondary to the emergent processes in her choreographic approach. Whereas, Is That Her attends more closely to an overall compositional consideration with a progression of ideas from beginning to end. With the splicing of spoken stories, movement sections, and segments of edited dance film, she creates a bed of inter-relationship, where meaning is not stated but implied and somewhat obscured. What seems to be important here is how the process of compositional arrangement leads to the creation of new meaning and connection for both the artist and the audience, it is a process of figuring stuff out. In all their sameness and difference though, I would be excited to see the kind of work that might emerge from these two artists co-creating a work together.
I am pondering the title Project B: the fic losing myself in a blur of meanings. I utilize the ever-handy (but sometimes misleading) Google-technology to discover ‘fic’ or in fact FIC is “a world leader in the design and production of motherboards” (http://www.fic.com.tw/). Could this ‘fic’ in fact relate to the technology Anna is referring to in her strangely factual performance of the human?
I think of Anna as a kind of motherboard as she navigates us through the “densely layered atmosphere” she creates before our eyes using a kind of intensity of gesture and focus. In her introductory section she is building up a kind of sci-fi ambiance as she talks to us about ‘the project’. She teases that we might test ‘the technology’ after the presentation but doesn’t establish what the technology actually is. I enjoy the ambiguity. Is the technology she refers to the gold motorbike helmet that she carries under her arm, or is it the make-believe world she is creating with us out of “invisible materiality”? At first I’m thinking this introduction is a lead in to the ‘actual’ performance, but it is a highly polished speaking/gesturing choreography and when she breaks into a duration of glitching half way through, I begin to understand the shrewdness of her choreographic design. Oh, and totes crack ups too by the way.
A continuation of Anna’s exploration of fakeness (as previously seen in So Fake It’s Real) Project B: the fic is a smart articulation and questioning of an identity. Despite the visual representation of some sort of alien creature, the identity is a kind of human-ness inside a sensorially experienced world. I mean, I wonder if she can actually see or breathe at all inside THE HELMET? As the artist deals again with fake-ness and real-ness in this piece she brings into question the ethical imperative of performance where the use of make-believe to make us (the audience) believe is challenged. A really stimulating performance terrain to go into, Anna keeps plugging her own and our self awareness by pre-empting and stating thoughts and realizations, and in a sense telling us what to think. With all of the layering of this materiality she scribes a composition of unpredictable twists and ramblings made up of invisible inserts. A common place tool of dancers, the creative imagination, in all its weird glory, is usually stubbed out when childhood ends. But in Project B: the fic we are reminded that letting one’s imagination run wild is a simple yet lavish pleasure of life. So why then, do most human adults pretend they are above engaging in the fake-real imaginary world thing, preferring to keep it contained to the private domain?
As I have been experiencing quite pleasant but unpredictable little outbursts of laughter whenever I remember Project B: the fic I want to share some of it’s unforgettable moments:
1. Anna creates before our very eyes a make-believe mountain, then, raises her hands to sense what the mountain energetically feels like.
2. Her oversized animal print hoody has a sequined lining, which, when revealed becomes b-grade super-hero bat wings.
3. We are told that “we saw that one coming”, as if we really did.
4. She, in her neon orange-pink tights with black leotard (and tassels) does a roll on the floor to reveal the tail end of a wedgie.
5. There is a really believable pretend dizzy stumbling dance.
6. We hear an invisible panel speaking in a Neanderthal language of grunts (in DIY static-y voice over).
7. A parody of ‘the vague dancer’ cliché is made, where Anna is saying stuff, but we realize, she is saying a whole lot of empty nothings, done in a most stylish manner.
Zahra’s Is That Her begins with a gorgeously focused moment of standing in silence in front of the microphone, it is brief as no sooner seen, it is gone. We are then taken by storm as she falls backwards to begin a strikingly dynamic section of fast rolling, banging up against the walls, and reversing and rolling in all directions across the floor. Its abandoned physicality has an indistinct feeling of slippage into self destruction, but it is very indistinct. What I won’t forget in a hurry from this section is the expression on Zahra’s face as she falls backwards, like a little death; it’s as if the life slips from her face to the back of her skull as she falls towards the ground. An understated trace of spookiness.
Three aspects of Is That Her particularly stand out to me: Zahra’s direct use of gaze, the performers’ expression and created identity of self, and the clarity of the movement material. For me the strongest aspect is the lush sections of movement material which are clearly defined and evolved. Zahra explores interesting repetitive loopings of phrases which at times subvert in on themselves. She forms and moves through strange angles where elbows, knees and wrists become prominent features of the body architecture. Surfaces are also important, where the performer predominantly uses the wall (but also the floor and her skin) to lean on, prop herself up against, or slide down.
When considering how the performer’s gaze is clearly directed at the audience, I strongly recall images from the film footage of Zahra’s face in close up. There is a perplexing kind of intimacy which results from looking into the performers’ eyes for quite some time. Perplexing, because I begin to form a kind of connection with Zahra, the person, but her face is expressionless, so I don’t know how to read her in the way I would an everyday interaction. This absence of expected signals of communication, whilst slightly disconcerting, is also oddly mesmerizing and interesting when considering its implications against a common condemnation of the ‘neutral’ face of the contemporary dancer. This perplexity leads me to question the realness of the created identity of ‘Zahra’ in this work. Is the choreographer performing her ‘self’ or rather creating a kind of parody of self that feeds the stories we create around her youthfulness and youth’s associated themes of innocence and illusion?
The youthfulness of the performer is further played up through the combining of a direct gaze that confronts the viewer as voyeur or participant in the game of looking at the female body. In some of the dance and film sections Zahra constructs sexualized movement and posturing material with an awareness and control of details. She seems to be speaking to a flirtation or seduction (?) of the audience where the performer-audience dynamic of seeing and being seen is rubbed up against intelligently. As this sexualized movement and posturing seems to be more overt than in previous works by the choreographer, I am wondering where Zahra will head next in terms of body politics and movement vocabulary…
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