DOXA 2017: Everything is Performative (shorts program)

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Everything is Performative: Ovis Aries, Sarah Winchester, Voices of Finance (shorts) | Directed by Harry Cepka, Bertrand Bonello, Clara van Gool | DOXA Documentary Film Festival | Screens May 5 and 14, 2017

This program of three short films presented three unique venues for contemporary dance. Ovis Aries is a study in animal imitation, Sarah Winchester takes us on a spooky journey into the life of the little-known heir of the Winchester fortune, and Voices of Finance gives us an intriguing perspective on the lives of those working in the financial industry — through narration and contemporary dance.

Ovis Aries

As young children look on, adults dressed in sheep costumes baa and grunt in boredom, wandering around their pasture. When the shepherd comes in to shear them, they squeal in terror and the children look quite terrified. This is a strange piece of performance art that seems to be a commentary on animal treatment—by replacing animals with humans and re-enacting what they experience we are able to better relate to their potential emotions or trauma. The Corpus Dance Company of Norway also enacted some funny moment such as the sheep being milked. The reactions of the children and parents were quite different, the parents wondering why they came and the children engrossed in the action. Fully in touch with their inner sheep consciousness, these dancers deserve praise for their total submission to the role and for never wavering in their representation.  

Sarah Winchester, Phantom Opera

Eerie, beautiful, and compelling. The story of the Winchester rifle heir is a tragedy with twists and turns, all told through text, opera, and dance. When Winchester’s husband and daughter both dies unexpectedly, she grapples with grief and dementia and becomes a hermit who expands her house to include a multitude of rooms and dead-end staircases reminiscent of M.C. Escher. This collaboration between composer and performer is haunting, but not as much as the final image of Winchester’s bloodied ghost child.

Voices of Finance

A Bank Equity Analyst does ballet in his living room while discussing fairness, a Broker talks about luck while dancing up the stairs and off the walls of buildings, and a Programmer of Algorithms dances around an empty office while explaining high frequency trading. These are only a few of the characters who dance around London’s financial district while teaching us about the realities of the financial industry and describing what it’s like to work within it. Their confessions are bleak, revelatory, and not all that surprising. As they describe it, jobs in the financial industry are soul crushing and all-consuming. Contrasted with their free movements, their narratives take on new meaning. One line that stood out above all: “you can always make more money; you can never get more time.”   


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