Katherina Radeva with choreography by Liz Aggiss, Rachel Krishche and Lucy Suggate
Two Destination Language
The usual method used when staging autobiographical plays (determining one’s sexuality, reaching a turning point in life) is to perform a monologue. Katherina Radeva on the other hand uses dance to celebrate 40 years as a woman, a migrant and an artist; a particularly daring choice as, although she has always danced, she is not a professional dancer.
Although the tone of 40/40 is celebratory, Radeva takes the opportunity to exorcise a number of personal demons. The show, to extent, settles a grievance from childhood: when Radeva, although acknowledged as a flexible dancer, was not entered into any competitions because of her weight. Dancing to "360 DONNA" by Gnucci, Radeva visually challenges anyone to make disparaging comments about her body by lifting her top and flaunting her belly. Radeva remains conscious of her immigrant status and is puzzled by the tendency to categorise people, as demonstrated by questions about whether she is a designer or a performance artist.
The spoken passages, or ‘verbal notes’ as Radeva prefers, in the show are prerecorded for the practical reason Radeva’s dancing is so energetic as to leave her breathless and struggling to speak. Radeva’s work as a designer is apparent as, at points in the show, she decorates the dancefloor with coloured tape producing images which look a lot like a ‘snakes and ladders’ board game.
Radeva is an unselfconscious performer, changing clothes onstage and concluding by inviting the audience to join her in the bar once she has put on a pair of knickers. Rather than involve, this seems to intimidate the audience who take some time to warm up and feel comfortable applauding numbers or clapping along.
40/40 is choreographed by Liz Aggiss, Rachel Krishche and Lucy Suggate and the style of dancing is not classical or even modern. Rather, Radeva behaves as if having a bloody good time on the dancefloor at the local disco. This is dancing like no one is watching and being unafraid of judgement, despite the fact an audience is watching.
At times, Radeva’s dancing interprets the song lyrics—dropping to her knees and scrubbing the floor for "Work!" by Gnucci. There is an element of storytelling with a Balkan yodelling song serving as background for Radeva painstakingly miming sewing clothes. Tradition is rejected as Radeva performs a Bulgarian folk dance, normally led by men.
In the main, however, Radeva simply cuts loose and demonstrates a woman in her forties without the toned physique of a trained professional can cut the mustard as a dancer. Like Radeva’s dancing, 40/40 is simple, direct and a joy to watch.
Reviewer: David Cunningham