Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Ladybox rocks the Sugarwomb

I'm clearly biased, but DAMN:
yall better watch out for Ladybox.

I was lucky enough to be invited to their B U I L Dstudio event out in CT a few weekends ago and see their newest collective/installation/movement/drag performance work SugarWomb. Working via a residency at the Peace Barn (a home/yoga center/15 acre property that occasionally hosts artists for the weekend) these Ladies produced a show that was visually interesting, playful, and creepy.
The audience was greeted by the ever-charming and perfectly on-point Host (Bailey, above in top hat) and led through the grounds as the performers presented short vignettes and stunning images using the space around them (beautiful woods, a creaky dock, large fields etc) as stage and set. Exploring ideas of "sugar" (ie: sweetness, candy, sex, money, tooth decay) and "womb" (ie: motherhood, fertility, umbilical cord, birth canal) the collective led the audience through a handful of embodied ideas and cross-associations blended with a glam-pop fashion sense. Something about the juxtaposition of the idyllic setting and the power-tulle aesthetic felt off, lingering in the back of your mind where you could quite locate it - slightly creepy or sad - and it highlighted the movement perfectly.
And did I mention it was all done in two days? Artistic Directors Saifan Shmerer and Vanessa Soudan put in weeks of prep work to make the residency a success (not to mention 150 yards of tulle), but the majority of the piece's construction was done this past weekend once the rest of the collective arrived in CT. After the show, Shmerer and Soudan articulated their process, describing how they communicated the images and word-associations to the Ladies (many of whom don't identify as "dancers" or "performers") and then let each choose their role in the performance and then flesh it out and create the costume.
I find Ladybox's business aesthetic refreshing - site-specific without falling into the trap of being obvious about the space or self-indulgent, low-budget but still striking and glamorous. It feels like these Ladies have found a way to make the art that they want to make within their economic situation, and not let the economy force them into a style or mode that ends up feeling like a representation of what could be one day, if only they had funding.

I'm looking forward to getting to see more of their work (and getting to work with Saifan if this funding for our project comes through...) and really recommend seeing them. If not for their end product, their approach alone merits more face time. There were some interesting feelings going around post-show that surfaced in the DTW dialogues a few days later about audience and power and money (especially in regards to comissioning - a specific offer was made at the post-show reception), but i'll have to save those for another post.

I'll be helping them with some video and blog work, so i'll be sure to keep you posted on all their happenings.
special thanks to Mike McCulley for the photos

No comments: