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  • Chris ORourke

Visible and Invisible/Too

Too by Tara Brandel. Image uncredited.


Safety Dance

A double bill of duets sees Croi Glan Integrated Dance Company presenting two well executed performances playing with two entirely different energies. If choreographer John Scott’s "Visible and Invisible" evokes warmth and inclusivity, choreographer Tara Brandel’s “Too” has a serious bone to pick. A yin yang production juxtaposing the softly spoken with some hard edged anger, both performances ask pertinent questions about our expectations of dance.

Showing all the hallmarks of Scott’s found movement choreography, "Visible and Invisible" sees dancers Linda Fearon and Rebecca Reilly execute a sequence of heavily mirrored routines built around a simple counting framework. Opening with Fearon sitting in one of two wooden chairs in a small pocket of light, courtesy of Sarah Jane Shiels, Fearon steps up to the microphone and counts out some details about herself. She has white hair, is left handed, has cerebral palsy, and is not your inspiration. Reilly soon joins her onstage, giving a quirky countdown of her own idiosyncratic traits. Her freakishly large vegetables and listening to Mozart’s Requiem quite loud being two, revealed as she and Fearon shuffle dance to Tom Lane’s music. The chairs and microphone removed, an extensive series of mirroring sequences follow, along with what often feel like call and response sequences, as both dancers establish and reestablish relationships, crafting shared connections in which everything is allowed expression and permitted to participate.

If "Visible and Invisible" risks an over reliance on mirroring, “Too” proves to be a different beast entirely. Once again Fearon takes to the stage, this time with choreographer and dancer Tara Brandel, to declaim the sexual harassment of female dancers. Brandel’s frustrations are palpable from the outset, with Fearon’s igniting into cries of outrage. A smart, sultry dance routine suggests choreography as a way of composing, and costuming, the female body for sexualised viewing. If the argument risks appearing reductive or exclusionary, in one of many clever flips Brandel employs costuming as a means of concealment and competitiveness, highlighting the underbelly of harassment. At moments Fearon and Brandel enjoy some gentle rivalry, before costumes resolve into a meeting place for both women. A terrific chair routine, followed by a prolonged floor routine built around some succinct mirroring, sees Fearon and Brandel manipulating bodies in space in exquisite fashion. If the final, selling their souls argument doesn’t quite sell itself, by then Fearon and Brandel have left the audience with more than enough to think about.

In both "Visible and Invisible" and “Too” there’s a distinct awareness that while dance takes place in the body, it is never restricted by the vagaries or tyrannies of the body. Indeed, even when physical lexicons become limited for any of a myriad of reasons, they need not become expressively restrictive. Rather, diverse lexicons can often introduce fresh physical ideas around composition, structure, and tension shaping new, dynamic patterns of movement. All of which is very much in evidence here. A timely reminder that dance needs to be a safe space inclusive of everyone, "Visible and Invisible" and “Too” have much to say about expectations surrounding a dancer's body and how we view them. But only if we’re ready to listen.

“Visible and Invisible” choreographed by John Scott, and “Too” choreographed by Tara Brandel, both presented by Croi Glan, runs at The Project Arts Centre until October until October 26 before embarking on a national tour.

For more information, visit Project Arts Centre.

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