Tassel Me This - Shani Dickins & Jessie McCall
27-29 September 2014, The Open Stage at Hagley College - Christchurch
Reviewed by Sheree Bright
Tassel Me This engages the audience in a ‘spectassular’ fifty-minute performance at The Open Stage at Hagley College. Choreographers Jessie McCall and Shani Dickins demonstrate skill in an eclectic range of dance styles and theatre performance. Their collaboration with designers - lighting (Ruby Reihana-Wilson), sound (James Risby) and costume (Fraser Mildon) - shines through from the very beginning of the work. Entering the theatre, one sees on centre stage a dimly lit and subtly shimmering column, a golden sequined cocoon from which a dancer slowly emerges. The lights rise, illuminating large tassels, drapery and four lampshades with 30cm fringe suspended in different locations around the stage.
As the dancers move downstage right we are transported into counsellor/client interview scenes that explore concepts of attachment and connection. These sequences also make excellent use of props to extend choreographic ideas. McCall, in her more vocal role as counsellor, uses a hand operated heat sealer to enclose various glistening objects in a plastic bag and, discussing ‘troubles’, declares to Dickins “Put it in a bubble and blow it away”.
We witness a dependent yet encouraging relationship between the characters as they transition through the various stages of the work. During one movement sequence, the dancers negotiate attachment and letting go, one fully gives her weight to the other while struggling to remove her golden boots and saying, “Do you ever feel like you’re clinging to your golden days?” A contemporary sequence skilfully performed and set to the 80s synthpop ballad ‘Take My Breath Away’, effectively utilises a giant fan. One of the dancers, with measured control, pours glitter in front of the fan, which disperses it over the dancers and across the stage. While the movement itself is entertaining, it is the combination of movement with set and lighting design, props and the exploration into the subject matter that gives Tassel Me This its entertaining and glitzy edge.