Reflecting on ‘Reflections’: “this performance is bigger than dance”

27th March 2017

The past few months of intense bursts of rehearsals finally accumulated to Monday 6 of this month. It was finally show day, and there was a sense of genuine calm – an unusual calm after contemplation (last year’s process was equally as intense, and stressful).

Run through after run through, tech run after tech run, and dress run after dress run. The day was busy, yet remained this calm. We weren’t as playful as usual, nor were we nervous. I put it down to a quiet acceptance. Knowledge of this simply being the result of our process.

Finally came the hour. And so came the soothing keys of dne’s ‘Asos Model Crush’, signifying the start of the journey that is Me, Myself, and I. Not without fault as shows often always contain (a slight hitch in the start), the piece was as beautiful as ever. Eliciting deep ponderings and ideas of the embodiment of the mental health illnesses at play. (The cast was later questioned about the effects on their persons from being so deep in the characterisations; emotionally and physically draining was the short answer.)

In the wings getting into character was I and Tobi, ready “not to reproduce reality, but to create a reality of the same intensity,” as Alberto Giacometti once spoke of art. Father Figurine was well received, prompting confessions of empathy from the audience during the panel talk (“I saw my father and my own son’s relationship with his father in you” one member said – not verbatim, but the general sentiment).

The last culprit in the triple bill flashed by, with many stories told and explored (an observation from the audience being the need of more time to digest all the intricate layers of stories at play – from text to movement). Yet there was a blanket of appreciation. Not the comforting kind found in echo chambers, but of an ever expanding one, reaching beyond the theatre through those present. The impact was made. The purpose fulfilled. If not that, then why create at all? The dance between an artist and perfection is a long lasting, and often fruitless, endeavour after all.

Thoughts from the cast

Iria Arenas

“At the beginning, due to my ignorance in that topic [mental health], it felt like I had to represent something sad and therefore, making a heart-breaking performance. As time passed, I saw my role as a way of making this hidden topic visible, not in a sad way, but in a good way: transforming it into ART to encourage the inclusion of it into society as a therapy.”

Tobi Oduntan

“I realised that this performance would raise necessary awareness for mental health, therefore I felt encouraged by the intention behind the performance. That encouragement carried me through the whole process, as it made me aware that this performance is bigger than dance.”

Emily Parpas Georgiou

“It was an eye opener for me to embody the ideas around mental health as I have never done anything like this before (normally just choreography) which I really enjoyed because it gave me more of an understanding of these issues. And it was great to be able to put something else into my dancing instead of just thinking about performing choreography well.”

Amy Elliott

“It [rehearsals] was very intense at times, but also incredibly important. I think we had a real responsibility here to do justice to those people who experience these emotions and situations in everyday life… This project is a definite reminder of the power of dance as an educational resource, as a way to raise awareness, and of its importance.”

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