City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Review: Designer Body

By Irene Brown - Posted on 22 March 2009

Show Details
Traverse Theatre
Liv Lorent (choreographer and director), Simon Birch (assistant director), Juliet Thompson (technical operator), Paul Shriek (costume design and realisation), Malcolm Rippeth (lighting design)
Dancers: Gary Clarke, Gavin Coward, Katryn Jackson, Meritxell Pan, Cabo Debbi, Purtill Caroline, Reece Raymond, Roa Philippa White (understudy)
Running time: 

Imagine having to be set upon a revolving platform for about an hour. Imagine not only having to keep your balance on this small revolving platform, but having to co-ordinate your movements with six other people on six revolving platforms. Imagine also having to do this gracefully and dressed in extravagant costumes which have to be removed bit by bit in time with your fellow performers. Well, that is what the seven dancers in Balletlorent do in their performance of Designer Body.

The audience is met with the sight of what looked like seven satin-clad, funfair carriages revolving like strange debris on a sea of black plastic. A mirrorball sparkles and turns to the sound of a background thrum and the noise of what seems like the spectrum of a plastic ball bouncing. The odd, humped slumps slowly start morphing, the pods blossoming and stretching like newborns to reveal baroque, corseted, barefoot ragamuffins.

They continue to move as one, still revolving, taking on the various shapes of scarecrows, stars, matadors, foetuses, and pirouetting dolls.

Now and again, the four females move erect while the three males crouch. Then these gender roles are reversed.

Sometimes one dancer moves alone, while never fully resting; the other six are supine, stretched and still spinning.

As the performance continues, the dancers gradually start to disrobe. Slowly, discreetly, hats come off, then top coats and eventually they are left exposed in utility underwear. The audience can see the intricacy of movements of the dancers' feet required to keep still.

We see the very human wiping of faces, the women's hair being loosened down as all seven stretch in abandon and take Rodinesque poses before standing in their ultimate naked vulnerability.

There was both a uniqueness and similarity in the extravagantly designed costumes worn by the dancers at the beginning of the piece. Their uniqueness and similarity as naked humans is also evident at the end of this intense and demanding performance.