To put it bluntly, ‘Flaunt’ is not a step forward in postfeminist creation. ‘Flaunt’ is more of a reminder of our current realities as Brisbane women in our 20s. No amount of haze and smoke can block our eyes from the realities of night club life. The dizzying highs and morbid lows are a conundrum that can dazzle and concern many of us, whether you’re “that kind of girl” or not.
As each woman enters the space her body is offered up for criticism. The four women seem to create an array of relationships; between woman to woman, body to body, shape to shape and performer to audience. With each dancer’s platform around the space comes a new dynamic of physical inscription of social and sexual conformity.
The women are splayed out across clear platforms and smoke covered panes like meat ready to be carved by a butcher. We as audience members are encouraged to analyse these women and their bodies for their gender, sexuality and movements – a reception that could turn as vicious as the girls contorting and dismantling the mannequins that shadow them on stage.The space gives and takes from each performer to points of frustration, splendour and discomfort. As the dancers disappear and return throughout the space a sense of time is proposed to the viewer – is each dancer re-entering the space in a cycle of nightclub lifestyle (night to night, weekend to weekend) or with each new dance do we discover a new woman or female nightlife identity?
The soundscape posed an unsettling ingredient to the diegesis of the production. While the dance itself seems highly sexual and driven by gender and physical representation, the recorded dialogue (not unlike a female Stephen Hawking) gave voice to the social commentary and theoretical foundation for the creator Claire Marshall’s inspiration.
The bursts of house music and strobe lights offer moments of relief and familiarity for viewers – I personally found myself smiling in encouragement for the women to break from their rigid structure and constricting movements and just cut loose on the dance floor! These moments haunted me on the citycat ride home. Was the familiarity of the lights and music that made the moments exciting? Or was it my rejection of performance art and contemporary dance (and my comfort with the familiar night clubs in the real world)? I am not a dancer and have uttered the phrase “I’m not into the whole nightclubbing thing” so I have an inkling that I was slipping into my habit of observing celebrities, women and even girlfriends of mine tare to the dance floor while I watch on from the safety sideline of my barstool or low couch.
The costume became one of my favourite developments throughout the piece. Many of the disappearances were in the name of a costume change and were well worth the wait.The plastic-like skirts, that reminded me of local bakery doorway blinds, matched the aesthetic of the clear panes and platforms. The black shiny croptops and lingerie could be considered a tribute to 90s grunge meets a 00’s Britney Spears music video – all elements and textures women who are now in their 20s can recall from their childhood.
‘Flaunt’ offers a voice to Brisbane nightlife for women and young people alike. We see ourselves, those we are envious of, those we pity and those we find fascinating through the diegesis, costume, setting use and dancer-audience dynamic.
– Written by Rhumer Diball Nov 18th 2014
FLAUNT PRESENTED BY BRISBANE POWERHOUSE AND CLAIRE MARSHALL PROJECTS IN ASSOCIATION WITH METRO ARTS
TUE 18–SAT 22 NOVEMBER, 2014
Photo credit: Mark Greenmantle Photography.