because the personal is cultural
The human body is fragmented by light until it becomes unreadable as such and it becomes a poetic body, a body that means something other than itself.
Having seen Lemi Ponifasio’s Tempest: Without a Body at Festival TransAmériques two years ago, I went into his new show, Birds with Skymirrors, knowing what to expect. Even though I was tired, I didn’t drink coffee before the show because I felt caffeine might interfere with my experience. Thank God, because Birds is even more meditative than its predecessor.
It even feels like a dream, simultaneously meaningful and elusive; slow, yet slippery. It helps that Ponifasio is an expert at achieving otherworldliness from the get-go, with his creatures in long black robes, moving across the stage in small steps so swift they seem to float. With their synchronized movement, they still seem to function as a single entity. Unlike in Tempest, however, here they do not appear to be threatening.
The dream-like state is also induced by unlikely juxtapositions, like when a bare-chested man slowly moves while holding his hands behind his back, making his torso look torturous, while we can hear astronauts communicating over radio. (Maybe the dream is about how, while men were busy trying to reach the moon, they prevented this oil-soaked pelican from flying?)
Other similarities with Tempest abound. The set and costumes are entirely black, and the only lights to reveal the action are being reflected off those surfaces. It’s goth as shit.
The three women are wide-eyed, with shaking hands, while their bodies remain sinuous. It is the performers’ arms that do most of the talking, turning the dance into a ritual. Ponifosia doesn’t mind making his performers cover the stage in white powder for 5 to 10 minutes, and that’s what makes Birds with Skymirrors so hypnotic.
May 29-30 at 8pm
Place des Arts – Théâtre Maisonneuve
514.844.3822 / 1.866.984.3822
Tickets: 43-58$ / 30 years old and under: 38-53$
has an MA in Film Studies and works in contemporary dance. His fiction has appeared in Headlight Anthology, Cactus Heart, and Birkensnake.
s.verstricht [at] gmail [dot] com