dpm is a Birmingham-based freelancer with experience of arts and lifestyle features.
Exploring beauty in psychedelic tutus and fringed body suits
Rosie Kay's new work is in some ways one of her most traditional pieces but in others one of her most subversive. Exploring the theme of beauty, and specifically female beauty, Fantasia sees a trio of dancers in an hour-long series of contrasting vignettes.
At times they are picture-perfect – an image of idealised beauty as they pirouette around the stage in their multi-coloured tutus smiling sweetly at the audience. At others, they are sexually suggestive – inviting the audience to be witnesses as their bodies revel in their female sensuality. But at others, there is a real uneasiness about this prettiness and we see them almost trying to shed these skins – so that an inner reality can escape from this façade.
The three performers, Shanelle Clemenson, Harriet Ellis and Carina Howard, are totally committed to their parts, inhabiting these different and vastly different sentiments with apparent ease.
Annie Mahtani's soundtrack, bringing together a multitude of classical pieces, helps to set these pieces as it takes us from the Baroque theatricality of Vivaldi's Ch'infelice Sempre through to Beethoven's sombre Moonlight Sonata and into Vaughan Williams's wistful Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis.
A fantasia is a flight of fancy and this is envisioned in Louis Price's extravagant costumes. The dancers begin in psychedelic tutus, change into fringed bodysuits and end in frothy see-through negligees.
Fantasia leaves behind the narrative structure of Kay's other most recent works 10 Soldiers and MK Ultra. And in doing so it also allows Kay's choreographic talent to flourish as there are no boundaries to meet a story. Fantasia is very much dance for dance's sake.
Premiered at the Patrick Studio in Birmingham Hippodrome, Fantasia plays the venue until 26 Sept and then goes on national tour. For full details of the tour see rosiekay.co.uk