The dancer transforming

Philipa Rothfield: Ros Warby, Swift, Fairytales of the Heart and Mind

‘I hastened to the spot whence I had come’

Shelley, The Question.

She moves like a sprite (imperceptibly quick) a signature traced in haste. The movement flows from her own body, though Swift, Fairytales of the Heart and Mind is about something more than the individual. Swift is an extension of Eve which was originally part of the trilogy, Solos, performed at the North Melbourne Town Hall in 2001. Swift opens with a new section, danced in red. It is full of human character. Ros Warby does not move with grace but uses her fine kinesthetic knowledge to shape something quite different.

In doing so, she brings a comic-tragic edge to the movement. Perhaps it is human to be ungainly. The foibles and sheer fallibility of this moving person generated laughter from some and pity from others. My own thoughts turned to Warby’s training in Alexander technique. I wondered whether the strong sense of character in the movement was meant to imply some kind of interiority. A sort of acting from the outside-in, where the dance suggests an internal state of being.

There is certainly an intensity to the movement. It is carried out with a quirkiness that is very particular to Warby but there is also an attempt to move beyond that into a realm of generality. Eve alluded to various archetypes of femininity. I presume that Swift attempts something similar. What do I feel when I watch this ‘woman’ dancing? There is a poignancy to her predicament, the suggestion that she is not fully in control, but has to find her way through the viscera of life.

Margie Medlin’s use of screen, film, projectors and light added wonderful depth and texture to the topography of Swift. That, and Helen Mountford’s truly exquisite cello, enabled the work to exceed itself. The variety of projections of movement (face and body on curved and flat surfaces) and the interpolation of sound allowed for a more variegated gaze upon what is otherwise a solo dance work.

The second part of Swift recalled familiar elaborations. A frilled hip oscillating waves in a most feminine manner. Arm gestures, facial transmogrification, created in the flesh and by virtual means. The detail made visible in Warby’s body, and its native sense of timing is pleasurable to watch.

There is a sense that Ros Warby is moving towards voice, face, character and thought, without abandoning dance/the body as her basic medium. Swift suggests something of a transformation to me, a movement between genres, on the way to finding something new. If Swift is a daughter of Eve, one wonders where she will go next.

Swift, Fairytales of the Heart and Mind, choreographer, dancer Ros Warby, composer, cellist Helen Mountfort, designer Margie Medlin, North Melbourne Town Hall Arts House, Feb 7-16.

RealTime issue #54 April-May 2003 pg. 36

© Philipa Rothfield; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

1 April 2003
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