Dogstar Dance Theater/Anna Dunlop Prairie Winters
Teresa Skamletz Wet Bit of Sand
Simona Scotto in collaboration with Counterpoint Dance Company Say my Name
A fine night at Resolution, if it started slowly and perplexingly with Dogstar Dance Theater/Anna Dunlop's Prairie Winters. On paper, and judged by the number of creatives involved, this appeared to be a strong piece about love, inheritance and pain. In reality solo performer Bethanie Hayes started with a monologue about her Irish Canadian ancestry and the natural history and exploitation/dispatch of Muskrats... such as those used to make the coat she was wearing and originally her grandma's. A lengthy tale that gave way to a lengthy, angsty, solo featuring much demented jigging, collapsing to the ground and standing around, arms outstretched. Hayes’ character seemed unhappy, but I'm not really sure why and as movement it rather felt like unstructured noodling. Sorry.
Things picked up considerably with Teresa Skamletz's Wet Bit of Sand about female love and desire. It starts with Kathryn Fisher and Laure Dubanet on the floor surrounded by a pink world of clothes. Slowly they awake, play with the clothes, brushing and nudging one another as desire builds, supported well by Wolf Sara's atmospheric and (eventually) joyfully catchy soundtrack. Physical contact builds further in a glorious celebration of touch and sexual pleasure without the smut some might anticipate. Fisher and Dubanet make it feel both real and detached, with each in their own world and yet together and very aware. It ends with a cuddle and the spell on us all is over. Interesting dramatic movement and dancing - I'll look out for Skamletz again.
So much in dance is about youthful matters and anxieties and it was a pleasure to flip and see dancers of age commenting on how woman slowly become invisible as they get older and seem to lose their value and earlier power. Say my Name, by Simona Scotto in collaboration with Counterpoint Dance Company, features a mixed ability cast of 11 dancers, united in their attitude and to confront us with their sense of fun, panache and courage to call out the ageism they see. With poems and an eclectic soundtrack this was a thoughtfully done piece of work that really made its point with simple and robust movement. Bravo, ladies, and I want to see you again.
The female body is a site for empowerment, histories and intimacy. These subjects framed last night’s performances of women’s stories and bodily perspectives, commencing with musk rats and a monologue. Anna Dunlop’s Prairie Winters recalls her grandmother’s migration embodied in a fur coat, but despite dancer Bethany Hayes’ liveliness and spunky chatter, Prairie Winters struggles to go anywhere. Repetitive arcs, kicks and whirls fail to engage. The skinning of musk rats, described in technical depth, offers darkness diluted with comedy and a stuffed-toy-taxidermy twist. There is little sign of the weighty burden of love and violence promised in the programme notes.
Softness and delicacy are uncovered in Teresa Skamletz’s Wet Bit of Sand, an exploration into female connection and closeness. Dancers Laure Dubanet and Kathryn Fischer lie passive amongst an array of pink fabrics, which they later drape and brush over each other’s heads and shoulders: touch extended in textile. But this dualistic exchange is not overtly sexual, rather a delve into a loving relationship where contact is an affirmation of bond. The dancers revolve over and around one another, pausing to hold their partner’s gaze in a message we can’t quite read. We’re not meant to.
We’ve journeyed to the past, and seen younger women’s love. It’s almost fitting to see a mature cast in Simona Scotti’s Say my Name, which addresses diminished value following the loss of female procreation. Shuddering contractions with hands clasping the head imply intense frustration, but much of the work is uplifting. Balletic solos are graced in echoes of youth, and all are determined to remain young and beautiful. Indeed, it would have been curious to see beauty values questioned rather than striven for. Despite occasional over-sentimental moments, Say my Name defies society’s blind eye to aging life, making for an optimistic conclusion to the evening.