WSR Reviews

Review - Project Arts Centre Apr 4-5

Women's bodies are beaten down in Catherine Young's visceral dance. How will they be able to stand back up?

by Chris McCormack (Musings in Intermissions)

"If you were under the impression that the continued campaign for gender equality is an exaggeration, this production will smack you back to reality."

As Dancer in Residence at Siamsa Tíre, the National Folk Theatre in Kerry, Catherine Young spent time working with women support groups in the locality. Their stories of how they dealt with their afflictions inspired Woman Stood Regardless, a visceral dance in which the female body tries to withstand being bent and warped into defeat.

Take Lucia Kickham's opening movement: a turn that tremors, misaligning her leg to the degree that you'd picture it dislocating. She rests on a foot that bends towards a frightening thought; you can't help but imagine an ankle shattering into pieces.

The tall and slender Mariam Ribon doesn't tremble in the same manner. Her flow retains an elegance. As her hands wave from her bowing head, they weave a descent, a distress that's more mental than physical. Young's production begins to lose its nerve.

It's only in the glide of Ivonne Kalter that we see a gesture, a feeling out of the female body, that can be construed as a sexualised image. If this were amplified, it would restrain the performance's scope to that of a specific abuse. Instead, Young's choreography critiques a much wider gender reality, illustrating a societal purview where women get beaten down, in any walk of life.

If you were under the impression that the continued campaign for gender equality is an exaggeration, this production will smack you back to reality. The women depicted onstage are pulverised, dropping to the strains of Michael Fleming's music, which pounds as opposed to builds, until what's only left is hissing static.

After Deirdre Griffin is barraged across the stage, she appears to us as a victim. She evades another dancer who tries to connect with her, connoting a trauma that doesn't clear as easily as a bruise. From this despair you'd wonder where else Woman Stood Regardless can go. But with the hopeful strokes of a violin, and in Stephen Dodd's golden lighting, Young shoulders her struck down dancers on, healing them with her gentle choreography.

It's been a week of discussions as the 100th anniversary of the formation of the Cumann na Mban provoked debate about the status of women in Irish society. What's prevalent in Young's production is its violence more that its rehabilitation. If ever there was a reminder that the fight needs to continue, it's here."


Review by Joseph Kearney (No More Workhorse)
"Go and see it for the beauty and the pain."
Dance, contemporary, explorative, figurative dance, that’s the measure of the show tonight at The Project Arts centre; doors at 8. The piece
was incepted in the Kingdom, my homeland, the county of Kerry and has premiered in the Capital on the main stage at the Project. The piece
opens with darkness and a half light, four women placed or torn onto the stage like wounded warriors.
While much of the dancing is symmetrical and all four women moving as one, the lady in the red dress kept catching my eye. Dancers scoop
each other up and pour each other out, bodies writhe and wriggle. The battle of the sexes, women dominated by other women, tender affection, learning difficulties, abuse, control, sitting on someone else for support or destruction, the use of body language is powerful. A
repeated movement, an inescapable tick, a shaking hand, a knocking head all convey the frustration of being trapped, perhaps within your
body, or your life; perhaps both.
The show flows seamlessly from loud chaotic industrial music to silent movement and back again. A rhythm all the while gathering pace to a
crescendo, dancers enter, leave, re-enter with a new energy, status shoots up and dips right back down. It is as if the animals are running the Zoo. This piece is hard hitting, strong and has a powerful image to impart.
I am a not usually a huge fan of dance myself, especially modern explorative but Cois Ceim’s Agnes and now Catherine Young Dance are
forcing me to reconsider my position on an art form I previously thought had escaped me, it has now engulfed me. Go and see it for the beauty and the pain.