Grande dame of contemporary dance, Shobana Jeyasingh, in her conception of 'TooMortal':a performance specifically for historic churches, draws inspiration from the aura of ceremony, sanctity, community and history in which many church buildings are steeped.
St Mary's on Stoke Newington Church St regularly opens its doors for community and arts events. Rich in atmosphere, its intimate and humble beauty is suggestive of safety, privacy, and secrecy behind closed doors. 'TooMortal', a 20 minute performance symbolising the journey of life, played at St Mary's for the Dance Umbrella 2012 Festival before touring to venues around the UK and Europe.
Using the church pews as performance areas, Jeyasingh constructs a metaphor for life spaces from the cradle to the grave; her piece is choreographed as a voyage from birth to death. The dancers emerge then disappear, their bodies fluid, following the contours of the space which confines them. They re-emerge disjointed, conjoined, robotic and at times with mermaid-like mysticism, as if rising from a water's surface, at others jutting forward with figurehead prowess. Clad in ceremonially suggestive plum shades, none of the dancers reveals her entire form at any time during the show, creating this edited, sometimes disjointed sense of the body, which is so inventive. A dramatic sound design by Cassiel incorporating James Macmillan's 'Tenebrae Responsories', is choral, operatic, electronic; a back drop to the highs and lows, the harmonies and discordance of the journey of life.
Observing from the pulpit, the audience has a sense of perspective that suggests the preacher's view of the lives of his community, struggle, conflict, power, peace: a life's journey. The box pews restrict each dancer within a tight space and with awesome agility the performers define, transcend and retreat back within their allotted space. Performed by Vanessa Abreu, Emily Absalom, Avatara Ayuso, Alejandra Lucrecia, Bano Pelegrin, Noora Kela and Audrey Rogero 'TooMortal' is high energy, elegant and emotionally charged.
Shobana Jeyasingh: TooMortal at St Mary's Church