Caroline Bowditch and Bobby Byrne in 'Weight' by Fluxusdance

Caroline Bowditch and Bobby Byrne in 'Weight' by Fluxusdance

As I waited to enter the site specific performance space, at the AXIS theatre in Ballymun, various
notions of ‘weight’ began to travel through the mind particular to dance performance; the physical
and metaphorical weighting of bodies in stillness or at speed, the emotional freighting of a piece,
the burden of tension, how pacing and rhythm affect the scale of weight. But also, the additional
loading brought by an observer, an audience; that unmoving partner in a performance. These
passing musing were to reverberate very particularly in this new show from Fluxusdance Company which interrogated the concept and interpretations of Weight through from the perspective of physical difference and mobility.

A sense of collective creativity and inclusion was evident from the start as performers Cathy O'Kennedy, Bobby Byrne and Caroline Bowditch were interwoven and integrated with each other and with the lighting, words, music and movement. As limbs moved and shifted, the audience travelled with them, absorbing the distinctiveness in their bodies, from O'Kennedy as fully mobile and agile anchor and Bowditch and Byrne reflecting and adapting , mirroring and investigating both minute and magnified movement. We watched as they pulled and pushed with and against their weight, using their bodies, wheelchairs, stools or small chairs extending real and imagined boundaries. The varying positions which we as an audience adopted, gave us different perspectives on the performers as they rolled on the ground, bodies folded tightly moving backwards and forwards, focused and engaged. It was a pleasure to watch Bowditch  even in a too understated
role, as she is such an experienced collaborator between disabled and non-disabled dancemakers
through her company ‘girl Jonah’ which gave such a witty performance at the Dublin Dance Festival
some years ago.

The choice of this specially designed space to show the work also helped to deepen the sense of inclusion as it altered the way the audience viewed the performance. We were, all of us, on one level, divided not between dancers and audience but into two performance areas and these were interspersed with both the performers and us watchers who walked around, leaned, sat or stood still . Separated by a white semi-transparent curtain onto which projections of words, drawings and quotations appeared and then evaporated, it created an almost ethereal environment as if the low lights and gauzy veil blurred distinction and difference.

But difference there is and the intellectual stimulus of the piece comes from kinetic research and practice such as Bobby Byrnes' own questioning of his body where one arm is not fully formed and functioning . At times, Weight was almost like a research paper in motion, but subtly done, as it explored common challenges of balance, stability and gravity. A quotation flashed on the screen reminded us that the skill is in the ability to use the correct muscles at the correct time, an extended physical therapy lesson creatively taught with visceral and human passion.

Seona Mac RĂ©amoinn is a dance writer for numerous publications including The Irish Times, Sunday Times and Metro.

  • Review
  • Theatre

Weight by Fluxusdance

7-8 March, 2012

Produced by Fluxusdance
In AXIS: Ballymun

Performers: Caroline Bowditch, Bobby Byrnes and Cathy O'Kennedy.