Posts Tagged ‘claire marshall

20
Apr
16

Flaunt

Flaunt

Claire Marshall and Metro Arts

Metro Arts Sue Benner Theatre

April 13 – 16 2016

 

Reviewed by Ruth Ridgway

 

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The changes for women over the past 120 years have been significant … but are we there yet? Or are the current times of social media where women are socially conditioned to police each others’ ‘acceptable’ images a step back in time for women?

– Claire Marshall

 

The first version of Flaunt, by independent choreographer and director Claire Marshall, was shown in a season at the Brisbane Powerhouse in 2014. For the 2016 season at Metro Arts, Marshall has extensively reworked this piece, making it much richer, with its themes of gender construction, and cooperation and competition between women fully integrated with its theatricality.

 

Flaunt grabs the attention and doesn’t let it go.

 

It’s like a journey in a time machine, with a central figure (Amelia Stokes) appearing to be brought out of cryogenic storage to experience the lot of women in five different eras: the early 1900s, the 1950s, the 1970s, the 1980s and today.

 

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Both sound and costume design are by Marshall. Each era is accompanied by music from that time, with the sound design also effectively using layered words (such as ‘sexuality’, ‘freedom’, ‘fertility’) and spoken extracts, including a letter, and part of an academic paper about gender construction.
The costumes are simple, but effective: over short black pants and crop tops, the dancers don Edwardian ‘hobble’ skirts, 1950s full-skirted dresses, pastel chiffon 1970s evening dresses, clunky 80s jackets with shoulder pads, and for today, bright little tops teamed with blue wedge sandals.
In a clever device, different floor coverings, lined up in rolls at one side of the performance space, are spread over the floor to match the costume changes for each era. The other main feature of the set design (Frances Hannaway) was a frame, about medium-shed-size, of steel posts and cross-pieces.

 

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This framework echoed the theme of ‘construction’ of gender, while also resembling a cage, or part of a set in a circus or a nightclub. The dancers and the choreography made great use of it, climbing, vaulting through, swinging and hanging from it, as well as using it as a support to lean on or huddle against.
The sound, costume and performance show the restrictions suffered by women in every era. Their support for each other is contrasted with the cruelty of women towards others as they police their appearance and actions, and force them to conform.
This time there are three dancers instead of four: Essie Horn, Courtney Scheu, and Amelia Stokes (who was one of the cast in 2014). They all have strong individual presence, with Stokes a particularly magnetic performer. They showed courage and skill in their use of the frame, and dexterous management of the on-stage costume and floor-covering changes that were part of the performance.
The lighting (Michael Richardson) is dramatic and submerges the audience, as if we are in a club.
It was good to see this show again in its striking 2016 reincarnation.

 

 

22
Nov
14

Flaunt

 

 

Flaunt

Brisbane Powerhouse & Claire Marshall Projects

In association with Metro Arts

Brisbane Powerhouse

November 18–22 2014

 

Reviewed by Ruth Ridgway

 

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We are exploring women’s gender, sexuality and power, and how it can be ‘socially inscribed’ on the body …

Claire Marshall, Director/Choreographer

 

Before the first performance of Flaunt, Powerhouse Artistic Director Kris Stewart made a short, impassioned speech about the Powerhouse’s support for independent dance artists such as Director/Choreographer Claire Marshall and her group of dancers. This support is partly funded by the drinks you buy at the Powerhouse, so drink up, everyone!

 

Flaunt opens with a woman climbing a ladder onto the roof of a metal-framed structure. She writhes and poses there. Later three others appear and two women manipulate the limbs of the others. The end of the work recapitulates these moments.

 

In between are a number of other short scenes. The women struggle to escape from behind a glass screen, on which images of sultry-looking formally dressed women are projected. They walk in the strange crossed-over way that models do, they pose and pout, and do some pole dancing moves, using the uprights of the shelter. At another point, the feel is of a nightclub, with very loud, pounding electronic sound. The soundtrack also features a robotic female voice discoursing on gender and sexuality.

 

In a creepy sequence, the dancers manipulate shop mannequins and dismember them. The cross-section of the bottom half of one mannequin is blood-red.

 

In her program notes, Marshall says the work is ‘about women and power’ – but only sexual power is on display here, and competition between women. The women appear to be trapped by their gender and sexuality, managing occasionally to break out and escape. The ladder offers a way out, but it’s narrow, and can take only one person at a time.

 

The overall impression of the design (Frances Hannaway) is of darkness, and entrapment – overlaid with allure. The costumes were mainly black and silver – dark silver leggings and black tops for the opening scene, clear plastic tops with crisscrossed strips of black, transparent white skirts that looked like organza, and dark silver tops with black bike shorts. They suited the dancers, and had a welcome elegance contrasting with the dark themes of the work.

 

The dancers (Mariana Parizo, Miranda Zeller, Amelia Stokes, Kirri Webb) were strong and athletic, demonstrating a power that their characters in this piece are denied. The strength of the movement, combined with the pouting and posturing that reproduce some of the stereotyped sexualised images of women, results in an uneasy mix of voyeuristic appeal, parody, and critique.

 

Flaunt is an hour long, with no interval. Sometimes the time dragged, and at others the work was absorbing. Final show tonight 7pm.