Left - Sally Smith in The Dawning: A Retrospective
A Fringe Festival performance is like a chocolate sampler; you never know what you’re going to get. You turn up with an open mind and hope you get Strawberry Creams. In the case of The She Sessions, you turn up and find yourself part of an interpretive dance piece in the foyer with the rest of an unsuspecting audience.
The She Sessions is, obviously, all about women – women under construction. Three separate dance pieces dip in and out of constructing and deconstructing archetypes. Sometimes the themes are obvious, some you have to work for to comprehend, and some moments are more like Turkish Delight – you just enjoy them without really knowing why.
The She Sessions sees dancers Trudy Radburn, Sally Smith, and Tirese Ballard teaming up to bring us a mixed bag of dance and textual based work that, for the most part, is highly entertaining. I became an instant fan of Radburn and Smith when I saw Poupée, choreographed by Radburn, at 45 Downstairs in early 2009. It’s still one of the most beautiful dance shows I’ve ever seen, and Radburn and Smith don’t disappoint this time with their respective pieces Undone and The Pane Of A Filthy Window.
Undone was the Turkish Delight of the evening for me. I had little idea of what anything meant, but that only slightly detracted from Radburn’s beautiful, technical style. Radburn has a remarkable relationship with the floor. She has an uncanny ability to render it almost a part of herself, and to great effect.
The Pane Of A Filthy Window has one of the best premises for a dance piece I think I’ve ever seen. I won’t give it away; see it for yourself. That said, it is a case of a great idea that doesn’t quite fulfil its potential. There are too many self-indulgent moments, namely at the beginning and the end of the piece, and Ballard’s voice, although lovely, fails to carry well. But there are also some fabulous, fun moments and Ballard executes some crazy moves seemingly without effort. The concept of being so down that you’re stuck to your bed is taken to quite an amazing level in The Pane Of A Filthy Window. It’s a very clever idea.
As good as these two pieces were, they were outdone by Smith’s highly entertaining piece The Dawning: A Retrospective, which is like a montage of every bad theatre class you’ve ever attended or imagined. Having done a Theatre degree myself nearly twenty years ago, seeing Smith’s pantomime faces coupled with every clichéd dance move you’ve ever seen, as well as her interpretive dance with a giant piece of material, is a delight of the highest order. (I don’t think there’s a theatre student alive who hasn’t at some stage done a piece of work without a giant piece of material in it. I certainly did.)
The video projection of her ‘Head Bag Series’ – her first one woman show, inspired by her idea of wearing a paper bag on her head to avoid having to speak and hence confess to fellow thespians you have no work - is very funny, and was well received by the small but appreciative audience. Smith’s vocal work is strong, too. As she emphatically announced before the show in the foyer and as her own piece began and ended, “the power of the dance is here!”.
And so it was. The She Sessions won’t be everybody’s cup of tea, but I can assure you that, as in every good box of chocolates, you’re bound to sample something that will delight your senses.
Theatre Works & Women Under Construction presents
The She Sessions
A triple Bill
Created and performed by Sally Smith, Trudy Radburn and Tirese Ballard
Venue: TheatreWorks | 14 Acland St, St Kilda
Dates: Wed 29th Sept to 2nd Oct @ 7.00pm, Wed 6th Oct to 9th Oct @ 8.30pm