In I Only Laugh to Keep From Weeping José Tomás and Valerie Ebuwa haughtily face the audience, dressed identically in white oversized t-shirts, with baby pink draperies attached – from the top of the stage backdrop – to their elbows and shoulders. After possessively touching and almost worshipping the fabric, they drop it. They perform a wide range of movements: static stances, forceful turns and splits, and deliberate, pretentiously sophisticated gestures. A musician takes centre stage to play increasingly intense, urgent music combining electronic beats, trumpet and guitar then Ebuwa picks up the microphone and yells “Excess and Ecstasy.” Although the dramatically egotistical poses, overly-layered music and obsession with textile seemed all too much, it’s a formula reminding us that with excess comes chaos.
Fallon Mayanja’s Pearl as Epidermis takes us on a digital, scientific and personal journey distinctly classified into two sections. The first transports us to the digital world, relying on a galaxy-like image and voice-over to explain the epidermis. In the second, Mayanja emerges facing away from us, on one knee, in a small square. She isolates upper back muscles, inwards and outwards, resembling the expansion and contraction of the human lungs. It triggers other smaller movements: twitching fingers, twisting wrists and bending elbows. Are we witnessing the creation of another body, or the discovery of oneself? While the few movements were intriguing, overall this was a rather underwhelming production.
Make way for the shuffle and ‘floss dance’ masters! A sense of humour pervades Erena Reilent’s Being-O-Matic. Four males in mix and match coloured t-shirt and shorts mechanically carry out individual sequences consisting of various animated movements: leg trembles, hand flaps, hip swings, and elbow lifts. They have a playful relationship, manoeuvring around one another in the confined space and eventually feeding off each other’s movements. Together they shuffle like a caterpillar or swing their limbs and trunks rapidly. If one finds it a struggle to concentrate watching the repetitive movements, it’s going to take even more concentration to maintain the deadpan expression that these skilful dancers have.