Image – Work Art Life Studios and Black Photography
How large is the window of opportunity for girls to rise above and navigate society’s obstacles to personal and professional success? What does it mean for women to negate themselves, put themselves down and reduce achievement? Where does that begin and who is driving it? Other girls, other women, mothers?
Using the hyper sexualised and cutthroat world of competitive dance to illuminate the emergence of the sexual and intellectual power young girls discover as they traverse puberty, Dance Nation is an examination of how ambition and self-worth can be controlled and destroyed by peripheral forces. Focusing sharply on this critical time, the delicate balance and potential for mismanagement becomes alarmingly apparent.
As one might expect from a play asking tough questions about the personal development of females, this is a play offering fantastic opportunities for women. Performed by an exceptionally strong cast of nine, the use of mature women in all of the pre-teen roles is a convention that adds a layer of sadness and wonder about dreams that may or may not have been realised.
While narratively there is focus on the path of a few central characters, this really is a great ensemble piece and highlighting one performance over another would add nothing to a review that genuinely wishes to applaud the entire cast for some seriously fine work. Renowned as Red Stitch is for its focus on high calibre performers and performance, Dance Nation is an exceptional choice for this season.
Well conceived, produced and directed this is an evening full of clever observation. Clare Barron’s writing is vibrant and dark and for any actors reading, Dance Nation’s powerful monologues will, I’m sure, prove an excellent source of future audition material.
This is not just a work about women or even exclusively for women but a fun and very funny play with something important to say about our collective responsibility for nurture.
Red Stitch Actors Theatre presents
by Clare Barron
Director Maude Davey
Venue: Red Stitch | Rear 2 Chapel Street, St Kilda East, Vic
Dates: 17 March – 14 April 2019