Kylie Thompson presents a hyperphysical and hilarious feminist dance piece.
July 8 Native Earth’s Aki Studio at Daniel’s Spectrum
BY MILES FORRESTER
Where Kylie Thompson's Femmillenial begins depends on where you're seated. Kiera Breaugh is giving an apprehensive smile directly to my section of the audience, like one of us is there for a job interview though it's unclear who. The other cast members smile from their seats at their corners of the audience; Dana Macdonald has a goofy Cheshire Cat grin, while Claire Whitaker is seated furthest from me, with her focus directed internally. A projection is cast, and in the time it takes my attention to recalibrate, the three have begun to melt from their chairs. They snap back into the first posture for a sustained moment before Dana makes a retching noise, and they start a flurry of collapsing and retreating gestures in their seats and then to the floor itself.
Thompson cleverly deploys multimedia elements throughout, complimenting the disquiet that emerges under the auspices of an ageing patriarchy. The young women that these dancers present are aware of it but still stem one another's movements as quickly as they begin them. It's difficult to find solidarity when alienated from one another, which makes it so satisfying when the dancers click together.
Native Earth's Aki Studio is a wonderfully intimate space that serves contemporary dance very well. You can feel it through your seat whenever a body makes contact with the ground or another body. Feet rubbing on the floor and heavy breathing resonate in the space, while the silence accompanying a throwaway flip shows just how powerful these dancers are. As an ensemble, they form knots and daisy chains, leap and tug at each other, carry each other into the air while still inhabiting the archetypes we meet at the beginning of the performances. It's very satisfying seeing how the relationship between the dancers develops through these full ensemble, duet, and solo moments.
When Whitaker pokes her head from a standing pile, she's in formation with the other dancers and declares, "I'm Claire!" Macdonald and Breaugh recede. Whitaker then breaks down weeping before removing and recovering her shirt. The 90s couch-patterned blouse each dancer wears function as a tool throughout the piece to constrain movement. With the blouse removed, Whitaker can flex her muscles and play with the space. When Macdonald returns, she stalks around the stage, a hilarious agent of chaos that throws mean mugs at the audience before lunging at the other dancers. Breaugh and Whitaker's duet after a beautifully lyrical solo by Breaugh is an excellent climax to the piece, a chance for the more sublimated characters to work through some well-earned rage in a web of almost automatic middle fingers.
Following the show, Thompson asked if there were other Fringe members in the audience. There were people from Iphigenia in Splott, Neverwonder, and Between Root & Bloom, which I'll see on Sunday. When I arrived at Daniels Spectrum, the sun was setting behind the silhouette of an unfinished condo, its cladding catching the rays and threading it to where I stood. Post-show, the sun is gone and the sky is exhaling its last gasp of blue behind pink clouds. On to the next one.