Context is important. I attended Good Woman’s Dance Collective double-bill, Fracture, having recently seen a contemporary dance piece which began with dancers emerging from a giant womb-like structure. I was also sitting beside a friend who never goes to the theatre because, in his words, “I never get what they’re going on about.” There was some eerie, futuristic music playing, and the entire stage was covered with what looked like a giant clear plastic bag – the thin kind that you use for your fruits and vegetables. And then, two dancers appeared beneath it, moving and wrestling with each other and the plastic, until they – eventually – were birthed into the theatre. Another womb, I thought. Okay.
I’ll say here that the good women on stage were phenomenal artists. In Pod, their first of two pieces, they conveyed entrapment, heartbreak and anxiety as they experimented with their disconnection – both fighting and embracing it. Their bodies did some incredible things, and reminded me why I love dance so much. But the piece also reminded me why I didn’t. At times it felt heavy-handed, drawn out, laden with symbol and atmosphere without ever taking me anywhere, asking me questions, making me wonder. Perhaps my recent overexposure to dancers being birthed from plastic wombs had predisposed me to a particular response. My theatre-avoidant friend loved it!
The second piece, Shatterstate, explored fracture in a different way, which I found refreshing and smart. No music, no plastic sheet, just three dancers in raglan tees and Converse sneakers participating in what felt like childhood schoolyard games, abstracted and made infinitely more interesting. Sometimes they worked together, sometimes they worked together against each other, and the ever-changing group dynamic on stage totally won me over. I forgot about Pod’s plastic sheet and the trippy music and was back in love with dance.
But context is everything, remember? Post-show, we grabbed a beer and had a chat about Fracture. “That second piece, I couldn’t get into,” my friend offered, “my brain hurt so much from sticking with that first one, I had nothing left. But the redhead had a great haircut, and that kept me going.” So, a fractured response to the double-bill, but between the womb, the Converse and the great haircut, this show’s got something for everyone.