Review-Standing Bird 2-HKPFF


By: Joyce Wong

A one-hour piece of solo dance theatre, Standing Bird 2 explores the metamorphic journey of a woman spreading her wings through movement, sound and imagery. Directed by Sally Richardson and performed by Jacqui Claus (Dance Australia Critics Choice ‘Most Outstanding Female Dancer 2012’), the performance impressed and unnerved with demanding body images and dance. 


Clad in a tight fitting little black dress, Claus fluttered around the Fringe Underground before the show to preen and mingle. Finally taking a seat on the edge of the central platform, she crossed and recrossed her legs giddily before popping a bottle of champagne to dance to some EDM. The mood quickly descended from an adrenaline filled high to disorientation, as she began to lose control over her mobility in a drunken sequence. Claus put you on the edge of your seat as she tried to balance herself, in heels, on the edge of the platform, while trying to balance the champagne glass in her hand. 


After clearing her head in a pail of water, Claus unbuckled her heels and took off her dress to enter a dreamlike, reflective sequence with a giant piece of white linen. It was interesting to watch her work the cloth, at times nest-like and at others a heavy envelope. As Claus moved on stage, there was a projection of her blinking portrait on the back wall, which transitioned into a video of her dancing in the desert. Her moving body, fragmented through the projection, was effective in enhancing the sense of search in the video projection. Claus finally emerged from the mass of linen with an outstretched arm and let slip a trickle of sand from her hand.  


The audience was taken from the desert into the water as Claus began to revive sharpened sensitivity in a sequence of spasms spreading from her fingers to her entire person. The background sound effect (Kingsley Reeve) of trickling water was punctured by gasps for air, imparting a strong sense of transition. All inhibitions were let loose when Claus bared her body like a bird coming out of its shell for the climatic metamorphosis. 


There was something truly animalistic and transformative as we watched the bones of Claus’s fingers, shoulder blades and spine move and contort in rhythm to the feverish and heavy-beat of the industrial music. At one point she leapt from the platform onto the ground in a primitive confrontation with the floodlight. She then fully utilized the stage to emerge as a triumphant ‘standing bird’ ready to take flight. 


The lighting (by Mike Nanning) was ambient and minimal. I enjoyed the enlarged shadows it cast on the walls, threading through the performance something looming in the background, from which the standing bird eventually breaks free. 


Dance theatre pieces are not always easy to comprehend but Standing Bird 2 is an interesting performance work, well worth watching  for the way it combines strong and evocative narrative with powerful movements.


Standing Bird 2 is playing through Saturday. For more information about the Hong Kong People's Fringe Festival, click here.



Rate This Show: 1 2 3 4 5 Audience Rating: 4.0


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