Dance review: Shower Thots, Melbourne City Baths, Melbourne Fringe Festival

Dance at the pool offers amphibious playfulness and chlorinated whimsy.
Shower Thots’. Figure in a green/blue dressing gown crouches over in a huddle on the tiles beside a pool, while holding a toothbrush between their toes.

What happens when you take dance to the pool? Spontaneity, magic and a lot of fun.

On the evening this reviewer attended Shower Thots, Karlee Misipeka was the dance artist performing the role of Bobbi. She performed Jonathan Homsey’s choreography to a pool of enthusiastic spectators and an audience in the upper gallery at the historic Melbourne City Baths. The echoey acoustics and chlorinated, damp ambience made for a unique setting, as well as the “enter through the swim shop” vibes.

Audiences took their places in the splash zone with a pool noodle around their waists, waiting for the air steward-like instructions from Homsey, who was wearing a nylon one-piece with hood, covered in cloud print. He commanded the audience impeccably and entertainingly, holding up quizzical signs between the dance and music refrains, such as: ‘If you replace the W with a T for where what when, you have that there then’ and ‘There are 3 As in Australia, and each is pronounced differently’.  

These interjections of logic/absurdity placed the audience in a whimsical aqua wonderland, waiting expectantly for the next spectacle. The smooth jazz singing of Gala Hingston and sensuous dancing of Misipeka were a delicious counterpoint to more risible moments in the choreography. At one point Misipeka entered from “pool left”, crawling along the tiles, brushing their teeth, demonstrating her flexibility using her feet. 

Between each act, a sign indicated that audience members could (safely) move between “the wet zone and the dry zone”. The spectator zone upstairs included a large bath looking over the balcony and seats along the upper gallery. 

Read: Dancing on a tightrope: young dancers creating independent work for Fringe

Shower Thots, with its amphibious playfulness and refreshing atmosphere, seemed to speak to the delight of liminal/fluid identities – a characteristic of Homsey’s work.

While there were moments of subdued reflection while showering, the character of Bobbi seemed overall to be an energetic celebration of queer joy, as their thoughts were echoed by the musicians as they danced in and out of the shower. The result was a novel and fun way to explore interiority in the intensely public sphere of the swimming pool.

Shower Thots
Choreographed by: Jonathan Homsey
Performed by: Karlee Misipeka and Jayden Wall
Musical Director: Gala Hingston and Adam Rudegeair

Shower Thots was performed at Melbourne City Baths, 14-21 October as part of Melbourne Fringe Festival.

This review is published under the Amplify Collective, an initiative supported by The Walkley Foundation and made possible through funding from the Meta Australian News Fund.

Leila Lois is a dancer and writer of Kurdish and Celtic heritage. Her poetry, essays and reviews have been published in Australia, New Zealand, USA and Canada by Southerly Journal, LA Review of Books, Honey Literary Journal, Right Now, Delving Into Dance and more.