Ourselves revealed in hip-sway of the everyday
Julie-Anne Long ... a selection of dances of an "invisible" woman. Photo: email@example.com
SOMETHING IN THE WAY SHE MOVES
Carriageworks, November 15
As the audience gathers in the foyer, solo artist Julie-Anne Long unobtrusively goes about her business picking up tiny bits of rubbish. Apart from the fact that she is wearing a fluorescent orange coat, as worn by roadside workers, you probably wouldn't notice her.
But this prologue suggests we are in for something different. Long is about to present a selection of everyday dances for an invisible woman.
A side entrance to the theatre is open and, with Whitney Houston's I Wanna Dance With Somebody blaring from the car radio, Long drives up, parks outside and proceeds to unload bags of shopping. Looking exhausted, she brings them into the performance area, trudging back and forth. Every now and then the rhythm of the music elicits the hint of a funky dance move. From there she sets up her world: the familiar household chores, making sandwiches, washing up, hanging clothes on the line.
But underlying these mundane activities is the urge to break out. Sometimes she does and it is a joy to behold the uninhibited relish of letting loose to some great '70s and '80s pop music. Everything from Chaka Khan's I'm Every Woman to Rod Stewart's Da Ya Think I'm Sexy. Long is a consummate performer and playfully engages the audience. We see ourselves not only in the everyday, monotonous chores but also in the lip-synching and hip-swaying dance moves.
It is simultaneously a private world and the universal need for expression. In this case a middle-aged woman and sometimes her provocative cavorting is unsettling, the whimsical humour making way for darker and more challenging moments.
The "invisible" woman strips down to her underwear and confronts the audience, daring us to look at her middle-aged body. When the starry-lit True Colours fades and she dances in silence, there is something profound and moving.
Finally, as she changes back into the "invisible" Val to the Pretenders' Brass in Pocket, we have come full circle. In this performance, Long eloquently suggests the rich inner life of the seemingly ordinary person.