Order Interrupted

'Mash Up Body' at FringeArts

2 minute read
Dancers declaring authority over their own bodies. (Photo by Hallie Martenson)
Dancers declaring authority over their own bodies. (Photo by Hallie Martenson)

Directing an all-female and -trans cast, visual artist and codirector of anonymous bodies Kate Watson-Wallace invited six artists into her creative process and then asked them to destroy what was created. Mash Up Body — a voyage of construction and deconstruction — is the result.

“Reserved” signs were placed on chairs strategically positioned along the perimeter of the square performance space. As the room began to fill, it became apparent that the reserved seats were not for special guests but for the performers themselves. Half blending in, half standing out, these performers sat in denim-drenched casual clothing, awaiting their cue.

Jasmine Hearn walked out, pulling her half-midriff shirt over her head, revealing her bare breasts as the fabric from the shirt pulled her head and shoulders back in an effortless cambré. With a quick level change that took her to the floor then back to standing, Hearn rose to relevé and proceeded to saunter.

A frivolous exhibition of sexual immodesty

In a quick progression, Ann-Marie Gover, Melanie Cotton, and Danielle Currica joined her from the reserved seats. They ran on the outskirts of the stage, then collapsed to the floor and began a tonic parade of animated gestures. The Mash Up mob giggled, gyrated, and squirmed in a frivolous exhibition of sexual immodesty.

Hip-hop dancer Melanie Cotton unleashed her knowledge of the ballroom scene, eloquently demonstrating the “vogue fem” style. From the upright sashaying of her catwalk to the crouched, squatted, foot-kicking of the duckwalk, Cotton’s poetic physical energy seeped into room while the thumping sounds of Hprizm’s musical composition vibrated throughout the audience.

While the first section had strict formulations and obvious choreographic form, the second section was less orderly design. From faux-fur-clad revelers to horse-masked partygoers, the dancers destroyed the organization of the original structure by rejecting all the rules set forth by Watson-Wallace, in order to declare authority over their own bodies.

Throughout this unbridled journey, the performers remained honest in each moment of interaction, whether with themselves or with the audience. The performers of Mash Up Body related to one another with care and instinctive genuineness. Each touch, stare, giggle, or campy display evoked a reaction from the audience. Whether it was one audience member’s approving finger snap or the encouraging vocal outburst of another, the viewers were very much a part of Mash Up Body. Not without some agency, we witnessed an interactive expression that kept us curious and engaged as we traveled through an authentic world of self-proprietorship where women owned their processes and their bodies.

What, When, Where

Mash Up Body, by anonymous bodies/Kate Watson-Wallace. June 4-6, 2015 at Fringe Arts, 140 N. Columbus Blvd., Philadelphia. www.FringeArts.com, www.anonymousbodies.org.

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