Introducing one of our volunteer dance reviewers, Jodie Stapleton:
I graduated from the University of Chichester with a BA (Hons) in Dance in 2013. Since then I have spent time travelling South East Asia, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and South America. I am now back in Devon hoping to carry on developing my own education in Dance and complete my teacher training next year.
Review of Medusa | Jasmin Vardimon Company
by Jodie Stapleton
Friday 5 October 2018 at Exeter's Northcott Theatre
The full length piece celebrates 20 years of the Jasmin Vardimon dance company. The work uses the myth of Medusa and what she stands for in relation to life now. Vardimon also explores the myth within the context of the ocean and how our life at present is affecting our future. She makes passing comment on many themes including climate change, sexual harassment, equal opportunity, deforestation and the devastating effect of plastic within our oceans. All these are led by the story and deconstruction of the myth of Medusa, a Greek mythological female creature whose hair was replaced with venomous snakes. Anyone who looked upon her would turn to stone.
The theatrical piece starts with plastic wrapped around the stage and dancers creating a cocoon. In the background there are 6 smoking chimneys. A lone female dancer begins to bring the stage to life as she moves amongst the plastic coating creating waves of movement. As the group rise they perform a sequence of movement all together in a tight knit group, the audience cannot help but be mesmerised by their movement as they criss-cross back and forth over the space.
The dance work appears to be created in a series of chapters, each one relating to a different part of modern life. For example there is a male and female duet. The male dancer is performing a monologue about equal opportunities and how women will forever be in the male shadow. The female dancer is on the floor, dressed all in black, she appears almost attached to his feet and follows his every move as a shadow would. Towards the end of the speech she begins to fight back trying to stand and become her own person only to be shot back down again. The piece concludes with her put in her place and moulded back to what she is expected to be within society. Her role is to look pretty and not have a voice of her own.
The soundtrack changes with each section too, sometimes juxtaposing the chaos but mostly matching the mood created. There is a mixture of real voices from the dancers, soundtracks, electronic music and soundscapes. There is section later in the piece where two male dancers slink on to stage with huge branches over their heads, imitating two stags as they size each other up. They try to compete in an animalistic show of power and strength. They use their own voices shouting aggressive words to appear larger than they are. In the background the soundtrack rages.
Many of the images created in the piece have stuck with me. The moment a male dancer appears with a trash bin on his head, the point when 4 female dancers stand wrapped in plastic like dolls and the instant a female dancer collapses, her feet rooted to the ground as ash falls around her. The significance of each moment is so important and reveals so much about the momentum behind the piece. Each idea is created with so much artistic intention it is a truly beautiful and sole awakening piece of theatre.
Top Image: Jasmin Vardimon Company