Sarah Aiken: Set

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1.

We enter the theatre and discover a large hand-shaped piece of particoloured material draped over half the seating. Sarah Aiken stands toward the middle of the stage. She pulls it towards the pass door stage left, a long, lingering, cloth caress. She enters the door backwards. We take our seats. The hand bunches together like a fist closing as it flows through the narrow door.

2.

Sarah Aiken is the 2015 Dancehouse Housemate and this is Set, a choreographic representation of the dancing life of objects and an exploration of possible “self expanding tools”: an artistic speculation on what it is to be a non-human dancing thing.

At least, this is one possible way of understanding the performance and connecting it with Aiken’s enigmatic but elegant programme note–

A thing is not just a thing.
It’s never enough to just be what you are,
you’ve got to represent.

3.

Aiken, wearing four brown cardboard tubes, one on each limb, lies on her back. It is very quiet. We can hear the cars outside on Alexander Parade. They sound like distant waves. The thing before us, in lighting designer Amelia Lever-Davidson’s soft gloom, looks almost aquatic, like a sea anemone, its long golden spines washing back and forth in the current. The lights bring out all the warm gold tones in the brown cardboard, merging Aiken and the tubes as one – a thing emerging from the darkness of its being. Continue reading “Sarah Aiken: Set”

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Reckless Sleeper: A String Section

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1.

What is A String Section? As long ago as 1958, Tynan observed that, for the critic, the history of twentieth century drama was the history of a collapsing vocabulary. The crutch of categorisation has long since been cut from under us. The bowl is broken and leakage is the rule. Reckless Sleepers – Belgian, formed in 1988 – are well at home in this cracked, inside out world of melt and flow. They describe their projects not in terms of dance or theatre or installation, but in terms of hazard, mishap and opportunity. So what is A String Section? It is the art of staging an accident.

2.

Five performers enter the Malthouse bagging room stage right: Natalie Cursio, Caroline Meaden, Alice Dixon, Chimene Steele-Prior and Leen DeWilde. They’re dressed in stylish but not impractical short black dresses, with heels and lipstick. And although this is standard concert apparel for classical musicians, there’s something intriguing about it. The group’s costumes appear carefully curated: each dress has a different style of hem and a different style of neckline. Even the slits vary. Immediately we recognise a spirit of playfulness and invention, a sense of medley leading into melody.

3.

Is there a cultural mythology of the little black dress? Modern beauty, efficient and protestant, industrial but not without its poetic appeal? The performer in black, Piaf, Damia, the silhouette, the abstract? Continue reading “Reckless Sleeper: A String Section”