'Femmage' an homage to well-known women of 20th century dance world ({{commentsTotal}})

A dancer in
A dancer in "Femmage." Source: (culture.ee)

Lea Soorsk reviews "Femmage," an homage to Mary Wigman, Yvonne Rainer, Lucinda Childs, La Ribot and Deborah Hay that can be seen on Tallinn's Stage of Contemporary Dance on March 29-30 and April 5-6.

Deborah Hay has said that she envies people who have multiple hobbies as she herself is only passionate about dancing. Joanna Kalm takes the stage so decisively as though movement were the only way of being. Her body becomes the passage of time which filtrates the future via the present to the past. Nerve impulses come into being as sounds guide the search, which only brings one to the next impulses — the body is meant for movement, it yearns for shades of experience with an unstoppable curiosity until one burns inside and the danger of a burnout increases.

Joanna Elm directs your attention to the passing of time and the mortality of the body through repetitive movement. Mari Mägi's Lucinda Childs solo also addresses relating to the governing order, which is represented by a single object belonging to the arsenal of the kitchen cupboard. Intensely, with ominous restraint, the incorporation of a foreign object into the body reaches culmination. Although Mägi spends the least time on the stage, she uses up this entire time, is aware of the audience and demands everyone’s eyes on her. During her and Sveta Grigorjeva's performance, it was clear that a performer could tell the audience a story. Grigorjeva recreates Mary Wigman's witch dance as a rebellious puppet who is certainly not puppet-like — she hisses at the princesses and embodies arrogance rather than witchcraft.

The four solos stand apart as performances: four dancer-choreographers pay homage to four icons. The evening does not become a whole; there are simply too many characters and themes. Grigorjeva, whose solo remains in the area between dance and performance art, is followed by a joint final chord which also remains in the area between dance and performance art. Viewers are encouraged to take the stage as well. It remains unclear what the purpose is of this proposal — if the point is to destroy the position of a passive onlooker, a more convincing justification is needed than "come and take a closer look." The authors themselves say that the performance keeps developing and that the last act in particular is still a work-in-progress. This adds a dose to the general diversity and I leave the hall with mixed feelings.

The final act is a colorful and humorous play with La Ribot’s political feminism, where gender-based expectations are imitated, but it is done through a prism. Icons like a fig leaf, bikinis and a triangle marking the female sex itself are ridiculed. A hyperbole is presented: I pretend that everything is as it should be, but only to prove the exact opposite. I will play your game and break all the rules at the same time. Cultural clichés are unfolded. The roles become suicidal and the clichés morph into harmless toys whose eyes remain demonically sparkling in the darkness.

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This article originally appeared on the Culture critics' blog at culture.ee.

Editor: Aili Vahtla