This year Form Dance Projects brought to us MEA CULPA, a highly exciting and challenging piece of dance theatre that confronts perceptions of the female body.
“Cloé Fournier re-evaluates the plasticity of the body as a technological landscape in scrutiny of the female form.”
Female bodies wear padded shape-wear, with rubber bands segmenting the body into controlled, mechanical pieces, move around the stage under the demand of their overseer. They look like unadorned, life-size dolls with no characteristic features and a deep dark stare. Seeming to learn the ways that their bodies can be used and consumed, the articulations that serve their sexual purpose, the bodies are worked to the bone, displaying discipline and utter rigour. The performance of the cast emanates tenacity, intense control and commitment to the images. With the costume design and performances working together, it’s hard to see any organic life in the bodies before us, creating for an uncanny and striking experience.
The empty stage was made to feel like a futuristic factory for human-like beings, with a soundtrack (James Brown) that helped create this devoid atmosphere. The products have their humanity plucked out from them like unwanted hairs in order to be moulded into something efficient and sexy. The images presented hit home to me as a woman, in that it put a spotlight the pressures to present a more desirable image of myself. The content, while highly challenging and often frightening was so tenacious and resolute that I was charged with emotion as I left. Watching this was cathartic like a long, guttural scream of frustration.
The note it ended on was glorious. I had a big smile, as I watched the female body be brought back to life with vitality. Fournier displayed such spirited wholeness and confidence in her final bout that made us all applaud and cheer, feeling like together we’d overcome the world. It reminded me that the body is sublime, precious and so hard to fake. Seeing the constraints being taken away was uplifting.
This work is important. It’s a challenging, boundary-pushing call to attentiveness. It has the kind of intensity and toughness of performance art from the seventies, where being comfortable wasn’t always a given and commitment to a message was passionate. While it should be noted that the experience might be confronting, it is one of the most memorable pieces of this year for me.
Isabella Coluccio, Emily Flannery, Cloé Fournier, Nicola Ford, Natalie Pelarek, Daniela Zambrano