Show Girl/Girl on Show
Dancer Hayley Barker invites us into her tiny Big Top, where her musician tinkers, her audience cheers and her costumes hang in anticipation for an event that never happens, or maybe it just did? What a pleasure to be ushered through the dark auditorium into this higgledy piggledy menagerie of spectacular textures and colours. The environment’s juxtaposition with a habitual manifestation of curious movement phrases, object play, embodiment of aspects of the pending show and of her personal contemplations expose Barker in a behind the scenes foray.
Sudden starts into smiling grimaces, juggling invisible balls to the tune of a saw and balancing a topsy turvy choreography on an ethereal tightrope show cases Barker’s exquisite vocabulary which captures the humour and atmosphere of her jerky repetitious world.
The ingredients are all existing for intimate delve into the mystery of the circus. If the existing elements were taken in abundance, with a smaller tent, seats in the round, opportunities to pear in from the outside then intimacy and voyeurism would be both heightened and transformed. The sounds of the circus were just creeping in but what of the smells and the textures? The tangibility of sawdust and glitter, candy floss and feathers framing the existing exhaustion and exultation could take this sensual piece into a sensory show of mayhem against the sense of the mundane. A deeper interrogation of the psychology of the girl on show either internally or through moments of interaction or relatedness to her musician would give this piece the dignity it deserves.
The tiny chairs create intimacy and voyeurism; that much is obvious, however there is something more acute about looking steeply up at Hayley Barker as she twists, cavorts, balances and jumps into and out of action like a coiled spring. It creates a tension between the inward, exposing nature of her private world and the outward focus of her projection. It is this steep, angled view point that both allows and prohibits our being present in space and time; waiting for a show that we in one sense witness but in another, it never became.
Performed by solo dance artist Hayley Barker, Show Girl/Girl on Show is directed by Platform 4's Catherine Church with a live score by musical maestro Jules Bushell. R and D showing at The Pinte, Eastleigh, 2nd June 2015.