Dawn Pascoe’s passion for aerial performance meets her dramatic flair as she crafts a narrative about a woman compelled to express her feelings through dance. The narrator tells her story of growing up with irresistible physical reactions to circumstances, how this gradually becomes more of a problem and eventually drives her to “hibernate”, avoiding parties, new people and emotional situations. Eventually, she is driven out of her shell – meeting a dancer who seems to understand her by dancing with her, and her best friend asking her to be her bridesmaid. Emotions rise and with them the dance moves, and then the narrator finds herself pregnant and dances a manifesto for her child within, urging the child never to lose the joy and selfhood to be found in the pure expression of dance, promising not to give up on it herself.
The narrative is sweet and well-told, for the most part, despite ambient noise from nearby venues that occasionally obscures Pascoe’s spoken delivery, and also with a confusing patch where it seems part of the storyline has been cut, suddenly jumping to discovery of pregnancy. The character’s developments are conveyed in a range of delivery styles, keeping the monologue fresh and avoiding a feeling of repetition through the spoken sections. The story’s structure is sound, allowing Pascoe to prepare the audience for the character’s changing emotional state, using costuming changes to prepare the scene further.
Pascoe has developed her performing reputation with group Natural Wings for the vitality and immediacy of her physical expression. The range of emotional expression conveyed through aerial feats is often breathtaking, lifting her work from sequences of circus tricks to a celebration of life in all its phases, the highs and lows elevated to a staged spectacle on any and every aerial device available. Using a low and medium trapeze swing, there are flashes of this brilliance in She Dances, but those familiar with earlier works are left wanting more. Seeing Pascoe step up to a trapeze and her feet leave the floor is akin to seeing a creature leaving one element to demonstrate a familiarity and freedom in joyous release in another, as when a flopping fish is returned to water or a waddling bird takes flight. Pascoe is far from a slouch when grounded on the stage, however, deftly punctuating her narrative with neat diablo manipulation and critiquing fashion and societal expectations in a clever slapstick costume change. The moments when she does reach out and casually displays her own style of physical control are not flashy showcases of prowess in She Dances, rather Pascoe embodies the emotion being experienced by her character in the moment. Culminating with an extended routine celebrating the promise to herself and to her unborn child, these moments see unrestrained delight radiating from every part, drunken anguish and self-loathing tying herself in literal knots and fear and insecurity holding her back.
With a narrative for a clear structure to the performance, a range of skills demonstrated on the trapeze and floor, quick costume changes, slapstick moments featuring designer clothes and cake and Pascoe’s own quirky charisma, She Dances is an enjoyable piece of festival entertainment for all audiences.
Natural Wings presents
Venue: Big Top | The Pleasure Garden, James Street, Northbridge, WA
Dates: 29 Jan – 3 Feb 2016
Tickets: from $15
Part of Perth Fringe World 2016