There is a large audience turnout to Form Dance Project’s opening night of Common Anomalies. The energy is excited and anticipatory as we cluster around the Lennox Theatre doors; waiting to be let in. It’s at this point that gradually heads turn, one by one, towards the courtyard behind us. Now, being vertically challenged, I begin to panic, trying to get a glimpse of whatever has grasped an entire foyer’s attention.
And, out of the thicket of onlookers, emerges a Cookie Monster mascot dancing sensually, parting the crowd in his wake. The audience is delighted, completely confused and curious and this moment sets the tone for the evening. Whilst performance artists Bhenji Ra, Imanuel Dado and Carl Sciberras differ completely in their form, style and narrative; they each evoke the curiosity of their audience with symbolism and sensory experience.
The body of work is well structured with Bhenji Ra’s solo opening the night with her promenade introduction that then guides us into the theatre. This piece, Approaching Gone (#ytfingers) is postmodernist and bluntly, unashamedly weird. Ja has taken pop culture symbols like Cookie Monster and completely recontextualised them. She so deliberately pushes boundaries with her audience through the repetition of physical and vocal phrases and the incorporation of ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) interaction into the performance. I feel audience members shift in their seats around me; unsure if they are having an overarching experience of discomfort or enjoyment. I was mesmerised albeit confused by this piece and was reminded of a question I have asked myself frequently of late when encountering any form of art – “But, why?” Whether or not this is the artist’s intention is often hard to tell.
The second of the three soloists invites us into a more claustrophobic experience of decision making. Collaborating with composers Ori Lichtic, Olafur Arnalds and Nils Frahm, Choreographer/performer Imanuel Dado begins under a golden glow with text playing overhead. He vibrates and moves in response to the words, “We consciously and subconsciously create thousands of decisions daily,” all the while maintaining military physical control. This is the process and struggle of decision making and the consequential shaping of each individual. Through an exploration of controlled, delicate and chaotic movement, drawing and dialogue, Dado allows us the journey through What We Don’t See in the processes of decision making. Dado gives a powerfully energised and emotive performance.
The final performer of Common Anomalies, Carl Sciberras serves up a vividly sensorial experience of soup, visual art and movement with his work, Gbejniet. Universally, food is something so integral in shaping and sharing identity. Culturally, socially and personally, the concept of passing down a recipe like a family heirloom or tasting ‘home’ cannot be matched. Sciberras has created beautiful imagery through contemporary dance and domestic artefacts whilst cooking and returning to check his Maltese soup onstage. This piece does feel the longest and some moments could be more concise, however it is obvious that we are observing a deeply personal journey of the creator.
Visual artist Todd Fuller’s work is projected throughout the performance. Fuller’s style is reminiscent of South African artist, William Kentridge and contributes a familiar melancholic tone to the work. Through his incorporation of domestic and cultural symbolism, Sciberras has crafted a work that, whilst perhaps alienating for some, is at its core beautifully cathartic.
Photographer credit is Heidrun Lohr.
M. Osborne – Theatre Now & On The Town