Dangerous Bodies, Tap Step & Amputation of Personality - The Body Festival 2015
25-11 October 2015 - Christchurch
Reviewed by Sheree Bright
Dangerous Bodies, performed by Sarah Houbolt, St Margaret's College, Saturday 26 September
Tap Step, performed by the Sintes Brothers, Middleton Grange School Theatre, Saturday 3 October
Amputation of Personality, performed by The Unity Creative, Hagley College, Wednesday 7 October
The Christchurch dance community and supporters are all abuzz with the wide range of opportunities to engage with amazing workshops and well-crafted performances offered by the 14th Body Festival, organised by the Dance and Performance Trust. Taking place in more than 30 venues over 18 days, it is a smorgasboard of dance: from provocative contemporary to the South Island Salsa Competition, from hip hop to tap.
In Dangerous Bodies, multi-talented Sarah Houbolt brings us ‘under the big top’ announcing, “Ladies and Gentleman!” Dangerous Bodies references several sources; Tod
Browning’s 1932 controversial film Freaks, Minnie Woolsey’s life as KooKoo the Bird Girl, and the continuing issues for anyone experiencing the “accident of abnormal birth”. With contemporary, dramatic dance movement and circus skills using costumes, props, images, music and both recorded and spoken dialogue, Sarah skilfully weaves together a provocative performance.
Born with the extremely rare Hallerman Streiff Syndrome, Sarah entertains while asking the question “human oddity or natural wonder?” There is recorded laughter representing the ridicule of others while Sarah expresses the feelings that brings. Like a defiant phoenix rising from the oppression of false conclusions, she declares “I love performing! For this brief time, I am beautiful. I am Sarah, sideshow performer . . . Beauty is an experience!” The piece is strong and cohesive, and with Sarah’s fierce, sincere performance it undeniably pushes the boundaries of perceptions.
In Tap Step, the Sintes Brothers, Daniel and Matthew, enter the stage in casual black clothes, and begin tapping. Throughout the entertaining evening they perform with a variety of music styles including Justin Timberlake, NZ’s Mt Eden, Fleetwood Mac and Chemical Brothers. They engage naturally with the audience creating a relaxed, fun atmosphere.
The talented Joshua Wadley (long-time student of the Sintes Brothers) does a crisp, a’cappello solo on a black riser, utilising an interesting variety of tap rhythms building to a crescendo and then diminuendo. In suit and tie, talented soloist, Jamie Herrick, performs some impressive quadruple turns.
The Sintes Brothers each sit on a chair and make magic with their feet incorporating rib, shoulder and head isolations. In another piece, they play a clap, snap and stomp echo challenge with the audience. This sparkling interaction highlights that everyone has a sense of rhythm. All four dancers join in a final energetic a'capella piece that is a sensation with the audience.
The Sintes Brothers are passing on the enjoyment of tap to current and future generations giving it a more contemporary feel by incorporating new steps, rhythmical patterns, varying weight placement and innovative upper body movements. It is a delightful treat to watch them dance and to simultaneously explore listening.
Amputation of Personality by The Unity Creative is beautifully devised and performed by Jodie Bate with composer/DJ Kristopher Bate. This accomplished couple creatively and sensitively produce a piece that references personal experience and observations as well as C. S. Lewis’s book A Grief Observed. C. S. Lewis says, “The death of a beloved is an amputation”. Amputation of Personality demonstrates the universally experienced but uniquely expressed process during the loss of a loved one; moving in and out of the various stages of grieving including the joy of remembering.
We first see Jodie’s shadow on two white screens as she slowly and solemnly enters down the centre aisle of the audience, dragging a chair and carrying a suitcase. There is a mixed variety of recorded music, including Cher and Sinatra, and recorded or spoken dialogue. “No matter what I do, I cannot conjure you. You’re gone and now I carry on.”
Jazz music plays as she reconstructs the loved one from the clothing and props in the suitcase. Jodie explains, “That section is intended to be a surrealistic exploration of how, in the face of loss, we desire to create the illusion that our loved one is still with us. However, no matter how alluring the illusion, reality keeps stubbornly tugging at our minds reminding us of what is truly the case.” Throughout her strong and beautiful contemporary movement sequences and the gravity of her slowest gestures, Jodie is focused, captivating and moving.
Bravo to all involved in the 2015 Body Festival.
See DANZ Review Part 1 - Kurawaka, Ex Tenebris Lux, Begin Again & Room