The Spinners

Lina Limosani Projects and Al Seed Productions
Dance Base

The Spinners Credit: Chris Herzfeld@Camlight Productions

The Spinners is a tour de force. A Scottish physical theatremaker meets an Australian interdisciplinary choreographer and the result is a vortex of visceral energy that sucks the spectator into one of humankind’s oldest narratives in a riveting new interpretation.

In so many cultures worldwide, the divine process of birth and death has long been attributed to female deities: Kali the Hindu goddess, Sheila-na-Gigh the Celtic deity, the three Fates from Greek mythology are just three of many examples.

The female creative principle is the wellspring of life, but also attributed with its destruction. Life and death are inextricably intertwined. This is clear from the startlingly provocative images of the Celtic goddess, still found carved on early Christian churches, holding wide her vulva to both give and receive; all life passed through her birth canal and was sucked back again.

On stage, the three dancers give birth to each other, embodying the rhythms of the flesh, pulsing with the force of creation and destruction, over and over again. It is one of many compelling and beautifully executed images that form the core of meaning in this performance.

In Greek mythology, the life and death of humankind was attributed to the Fates, three sisters, the spinner of life, the weaver of fate and the wielder of the scissors that chopped the thread of life again. Their women’s work is reflected in the set, walls of tassles we later discover are individual lives. The performers transform mercurially, embodying multitudes of avatars, silk-spitting spiders, multi-armed, triple-headed goddesses, cogs in a machine-like process that denies them agency, moral agents carrying the burden of life-and-death decisions, fraught with internal divisions and conflict. And all this with brisk agility.

The Spinners raises some questions about the moral responsibilities inherent on the creative arts. In general it impresses us with the consequences of individual actions taken lightly in life as in art.

This is a treasure chest of enticing allusions, fluid and magical combinations of style from Indian dance to echoes of Oscar Schlemmers’s Bauhaus experiments in movement and sound. The soundscape is also rich in allusions and underpins the sheer, relentless energy of the dance itself. The set cleverly evokes the satisfying textures, the warmth of female crafts in fabrics and forms a chilling reminder that individuality itself is a delusion.

And it works, it is whole, unified through the ensemble performances, artistry, imagination, breathtaking precision of three very generous dancers.

Reviewer: Jackie Fletcher

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