Questions of what drives our most tantalising pursuits are given close inspection by Perth (Boorloo) based dance collective Enneagon Movement, in an open and affecting journey of female experiences.
Performer Emily Tuckwell enters downstage left, making a beeline to a mock clothes shop set-up centre stage. ‘I’ll just look – I won’t buy,’ she says to herself as she files through the rack.
‘It’s all 20% off,’ shop assistant Anna Milburn quips, taunting Tuckwell with the wiles of retail seduction.
The two banter and joke toward their ultimate goals, and ideas of external pursuits hiding inner emotions begin to emerge: we work hard, we seek rewards, we seem satisfied – we even feel delight. Yet we’re still lost in our quest toward ultimate pleasure.
These layers are deeply felt by the work’s seven female dancers, whose moves speak of modern-day pressures and narratives we build to try to escape. Their bodies are charged with both surrender and defiance, as they reach, strike and bounce through a multitude of states.
Dancer Jo Omodei is particularly strong in her solos throughout. At some points her arms circle wildly around her – like the hands of a giant clock whirling at high speed. Her dance suggests a battering felt by life’s external forces, but they also speak of freedoms achieved through independent release.
These present-day tensions – especially those felt by women – are at the heart of this work, and choreographer Giorgia Schijf has brought thoughtful sensitivity to her journey’s arcs and flows.
The score by Sophia Hansen-Knarhoi is another key factor. The artist’s meditative vocals (which you can hear on Bandcamp), bring beautiful melancholia to various poetic scenes.
It’s an undulating exploration from beginning to end, though it’s one that proves most touching in the work’s final moments. As dancers Alex Kay and Jo Omedei stand alone in the space, a quiet duet unfolds that unearths news softness and strengths. Raw honesty is revealed through their mirrored movements and partner work, and this reaches new heights as their peers return to the stage.
When the five other performers (Anna Milburn, Emily Coles, Emily Tuckwell, Francesca Fenton and Minni Karamfiles), join Kay and Omodei for the work’s final sequence, they examine female solidarity and intimate connections. These sincere revelations leave the deepest impressions, as they draw us close to private worlds of love and precious emotions.
Pursuit is independent choreographer Giorgia Shijf’s fifth work since 2018, and testifies to the artist’s strong commitment to Perth’s performing arts scene. It also reveals a talented band of collaborators she’s worked with to bring the project to light. This includes poetry by Alexandra McKenzie, dramaturgy by Ella Watson-Heath and lighting design by Matthew Erren. Pursuit therefore stands as a fine collective achievement and evidences the resonant emerging voices that continue to break through.
Pursuit, presented by Enneagon Movement
State Theatre Centre of WA
Performers: Alex Kay, Jo Omedei Anna Milburn, Emily Coles, Emily Tuckwell, Francesca Fenton and Minni Karamfiles
Choreographer: Giorgia Shijf
Dramaturgy: Ella Watson-Heath
Lighting: Matthew Erren
Poetry: Alexandra McKenzie
Pursuit was performed from 27-29 January 2022 as part of Fringe World