The performance starts with a film of a woman waking up in obvious pain. Removing a large bandage around her right leg, she limps over to her kitchen, and immediately takes a large quantity of prescription pills and vitamins.

Welcome to Maud Liardon’s life as a dancer.

A successful dancer in her own right, Maud Liardon has studied both classical and contemporary dance across Europe, was a soloist for the Gothenburg Opera House Ballet for two years, and since has been active in independent projects.

Maud Liardon’s proclaimed “self-fiction” performance is an opportunity to witness and to experience a rare glimpse of the reality of a dancer’s life. A bare stage, minimalist costuming, no music; she stands still and changes positioning a few times, allowing the audience to feel her loneliness on stage. Then she briefly dances, and it is simply breathtaking, with beautiful contemporary jumps, extensions and sweeps across the stage.

Her psychological vulnerability is made apparent by a voiceover revealing her inner thoughts in a humorous manner – “No doubt about it … I’m really living my dream” she says, as she inches across the floor flat on her stomach.  Although the depth of her vulnerability is not truly explored until later on in the performance, when retelling an experience of one of her dance teachers criticising her body.

The performance uses different triggers to emotionally manipulate the audience, including an amusing interlude using cooking demonstrations to describe dance movements. Referencing Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining” as well as dialogue from Godard’s “Mépris” (“Contempt”), Maud Liardon is able to manipulate the audience into feeling her innermost fears, anxieties and despair.

This performance begs the question – can Maud Liardon be anything other than a dancer? Is dance her essence in its entirety? Or is it simply an artifice hiding her true self?

By Ingrida Dornbrook

16-21 August, times vary @ Dance Base – National Centre for Dance

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