Lea Soorsk: “Femmage”, an homage to the well-known women of the 20th century dance world

In March and April, the group performance “Femmage”, an homage to the well-known women of the 20th century dance world – Mary Wigman, Yvonne Rainer, Lucinda Childs, La Ribot and Deborah Hay – by four dancers-choreographers, can be seen on the Stage of Contemporary Dance.

Deborah Hay has said that she envies the people who have multiple hobbies – she herself is only passionate about dancing. Joanna Kalm takes the stage so decisively as if movement is the only way of being. Her voice body becomes the passage of time, which filtrates the future through the present to the past. The nerve impulses that come to being as sounds guide the search, which only takes one to the next impulses – the body is meant for movement, it yearns for the shades of experiencing with an unstoppable curiosity until one burns inside and the danger of a burnout increases.

Joanna Elm directs the attention to the passing of time and the mortality of body through repetitive movement. Mari Mägi’s solo of Lucinda Childs also deals with relating to the governing order, which is represented by a single object belonging to the arsenal of the kitchen cupboard. Intensely, with ominous restraint, the incorporation of a foreign object into the body reaches the culmination. Although Mari Mägi spends the least time on the stage, she swallows all this time, is aware of the audience and demands everyone’s glances on her. During the performance of her and Sveta Grigorjeva it was clear that a performer could tell the audience a story. Grigorjeva recreates the witch dance of Mary Wigman, as a rebellious puppet (who is certainly not puppet-like) she hisses at the princesses and embodies arrogance rather than witchcraft.

The four solos stand apart as performances, four dancers-choreographers pay homage to four icons. The evening does not become a whole, there are simply too many characters and themes. Grigorjeva, whose solo remains in the area between dance and performance art, is followed by a joint final chord (which remains in the area between dance and performance art). Viewers are encouraged to take the stage as well. It remains unclear what is the purpose of this proposal – if the point is to destroy the position of a passive onlooker, a more convincing justification is needed than “come and take a closer look”. The authors themselves say that the performance keeps developing and especially the last act is still a work in progress. This adds a dose to the general diversity and I leave the hall with mixed feelings.

The final act is a colourful and humorous play with La Ribot’s political feminism, where gender-based expectations are imitated, but it is done through a prism. Icons like fig leaf, bikinis, triangle marking the female sex itself are ridiculed. A hyperbole is presented: I pretend that everything is as it should be, but only to prove the exact opposite. I will play your game and break all the rules at the same time. Cultural clichés are unfolded. The roles become suicidal and the clichés morph into harmless toys, whose eyes remain demonically sparkling in the darkness.