Deleuze and Guattari once described a type of machine that only works by breaking down. This, in turn, reminds us of a story told by French choreographer Jérôme Bel. A dancer at the Paris Opera Ballet has a difficult landing after a double pirouette en l'air and receives a much louder applause at the end of his solo than all other soloists. Bel points out that audiences, in fact, desire failure on stage. The necessary gap between text and practice constitutes the artistic core of performance.
Our part-scripted, part-improvised durational performance Unfashion expands on this intriguing thesis. A trio of identikit beauties with sharp hair, sad eyes and sexy slip dresses stage a fashion-show-like performance. They stalk and pose along a catwalk marked out in white gaffer tape. Repetition augments as turns and reversals are completed with stately poise and the odd human wobble. A choreographer is present on stage throughout. She sets up the space and complicates the performers' entrances and exits by shuffling the tape on the floor. She instructs and cues the performers in real-time with contradictory movement tasks, cajoling them to stray from catwalk choreography. The performers’ pleasingly casual manner of completing the tasks given, the choreographer’s informal and visible direction, and the audience’s inclusion in the process of the live performance, are all elements that combine to destroy and re-signify the choreographic text of the standard fashion show.
Dancers: Diina Bukareva, Alenka Herman, Katarzyna Witek, Emma Zangs