Photo – Gregory Lorenzutti
Atlanta Eke’s Body of Work opens with cameras aimed at the audience so you see yourself on big screens as you sit down; thus you’re alreay part of the production and being made aware of the gaze. Atlanta Eke is there in front, smiling and saying hello as you take your seat. Lights lower then there’s a grand introductory percussive blast from musician Daniel Jenatsch, and a comical padded monster – Eke decked out in sofa cushions – lumbers its way to the floor from behind the seats, upending the polite start to the show.
In Body of Work, Eke uses video cameras to create multiple repeating images of herself, looping segments of choreography upon themselves, creating an increasingly vaster whole with an intense focus on the shift from one moment to another. Ready Steady Studio collaborated with Eke to provide stunning video projections. Image and technology, dance and body and live score – these elements share equal weight in this work.
A refined wit underlines all Eke’s choreography: she inclines to surprises, eloquently amusing images and gestures. She appears with a bin lid on her head, pretending to be an alien then later suspends a pair of cymbals so they create a flying saucer floating in space. This work reminded me of Monster Body because she does many of the same things, such as painting her face as if she’s putting on make-up to start with then smearing the paint all over her face, on her midriff and into her hair. Wearing shiny silver two piece costume, this petite fair haired performer makes herself grotesque in appearance and movement, as she did in Monster Body, creating a contradiction in and of herself. Donning a pair of ludicrously high heeled fetish boots she plays around with how they affect her stance and her gait, affecting an insolent power walk while you’re uncomfortably aware of the threat of damage to her ankles should she topple. There’s always a confrontation with the construction of femininity in Eke’s performances; she presents visceral versions of herself for the audience’s consumption. In contrast to the powerful images she creates, she often moves as though in afterthought, sometimes her dancing looks random and exploratory.
The performance is about the body in the present moment but Body of Work also references other dimensions as well as the familiar cosmos. Eke makes witty images of the earth, planets and moons, there's the alien and the spaceship plus a solar system made by repeated frames of a large blue ball. We get rainbow-coloured shadows, split camera images of Eke creating hilarious primal organisms and creatures giving birth to themselves, live music sounding both modern and ancient and then we get everything in between, weirdness and cheek, always leaving you with the sense of stretching and of being stretched on different levels. Eke is an acutely intelligent choreographer and performer: conceptually and in execution, Body of Work is as thrilling and astonishing as any of her previous performances. Her work inevitably delights, appalls, amuses and challenges.
Body of Work
Venue: Sylvia Staehli Theatre | Dancehouse
Dates: 16 – 18 March 2015
Tickets: $25 – $15
Bookings: dancehouse.com.au or (03) 9347 2860
Part of the 2015 Dance Massive