Thursday, 14 May 2015

REVIEW: FOOTPRINT DANCE FESTIVAL: Eden Wiseman's 'The Manipulative Mind'

Dance Worldwide
Footprint Dance Festival
Michaelis Theatre
University of Roehampton
Tuesday 12th May 2015

Eden Wiseman's The Manipulative Mind opened the second half of Footprint's second night of performances. Coming from Israel, Wiseman has investigated the body interacting with raw materials greatly in recent years. The Manipulative Mind divulges into memory and experience, while exposing 'layers of humanness', through interaction with wire.

The stage is dark and bare, apart from a mysterious large dangling light bulb wrapped in silver wires. Wiseman lies on the floor, wearing a nude unitard and an intricately built wire bodice, which later becomes a kind of helmet and then later a backpack. Movement content includes a great deal of awkward self-touching: in fact to begin, Wiseman stands slowly, drawing her hands to her face, to forcefully pull her eyelids open. The tone is moody, focused and dark.

Spinning the wire covered lamp, Wiseman manages to transform the dark stage space into a new shadowy realm. She reluctantly wiggles off her wire bodice, revealing the upper half of her nude unitard, reminding us of her individual 'layers of humanness'. Wiseman gyrates, tremors and contracts, before sprawling on the floor. She pushes her face into her wire bodice, dragging her body towards the audience. The image of the wire wrapped around her head is evocative of a "busy mind", like a physical storm of thoughts. Or indeed, could be interpreted as a reference to the complex connections of neurons in our brain.

As Wiseman takes off the wire bodice, a French electro-pop track is introduced, consequently bringing about a change in movement style. She suddenly becomes more released and almost girly, as she shakes her now loose hair and bounces about the stage. The tone is now strikingly spirited, driven by the upbeat music. It is as if by discarding the wire bodice, she has revealed another very different layer of the human psyche- one of vitality and energy.

At last, she begins to peel away the final layer- her unitard. She carefully tugs at the sleeves and pulls the unitard down over her shoulder. As the lights dim, she turns away from the audience, wandering upstage. The vulnerability of her pale bare skin on her back is just noticeable as the stage darkens.

Overall, Wiseman gives an extremely unique performance. Her discussion of the human psyche, with references to thoughts and memories, as well as the physical structure of the brain is well devised. The use of wires, as cold and rigid objects create a clever juxtaposition of disconnection and connection all at once. Wiseman is definitely an artist to keep watching.

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