By: Chan Sze Wei
As promised, Iodine was stinging and gritty. It was not as beautiful as it was powerful. These were dancers in another light, of a raw, corporeal intensity that we do not often see in Singapore.
The tale of six women living in an Israeli kibbutz collective farm unfolded through knots of women, drab and worn, shrieking, slapping and muttering. They were gravity-bound and restless.
“Women are sometimes, you know, like chickens” said choreographer Deganit Shemy of the opening scene. A lone woman with haunted eyes stares out into the audience, against the backdrop of a chain of whooping women.
Shemy worked on and off over two years to capture the claustrophobia of group living in a family that you cannot choose, the life you cannot do without. But it’s not just a kibbutz. Their frenzy is an analogy for the situation of many enclosed lives – fleeting tenderness and celebration, the need to belong and the desire to escape somehow. The dancers wrestled and collapsed through exclusion, humiliation, confrontation, manipulation, and rare moments of tenderness.
In a dark sinister moment, one woman was brutally trussed up as the involuntary end of a giant skipping rope, while her colleagues flung themselves against it. Another woman doggedly cried the words of a German children’s song. There were however certain instances of hope, when the women slowly turn towards a shaft of light spilling from an upstage corner, or scramble for a pair of oversized spectacles that seem to reveal the reverie of another sun.
The dancers never manage to leave, and the piece closes just as it opened, with the solitary day of yet another woman, looking out towards you.
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This review is part of ArtZine’s Special Coverage of the M1 Singapore Fringe Festival. Read our reviews of the other festival performances here.