Nora Invites Deborah Hay – Where Home Is at Sadler’s Wells
Where Home Is and Playing Audience form two parts of a dance performance by dancing group Nora, choreographed by Deborah Hay. The trio, Stephanie McMann, Eleanor Sikorski and Flora Wellesley Wesley, as Nora rely on nothing but the body with occasional sonic disruptions, including singing, humming, tapping and sliding of the feet across the bare floor, as well as hushed giggles and coughing from audience members. This also includes a funny moment in which Wellesley Wesley takes centre stage with encouragement from McMann and Sikorski as they shout “C’mon Nora!”, “That’s it, Nora!”.
An avant-garde performance, Where Home Is questions the value of sight as a reliable medium through which to perceive space and the reality of what we understand to be empty space. Space in the show is manipulated through the dance movements that encompasses the body – from facial expressions to elaborate movements that stretch to the tips of the fingers and toes – creating a visually pleasing exhibition, especially from McMann, of the communicability of the body beyond the use of verbal language.
Don’t Fence Me In, sung by Ella Jane Romero, seems fitting, given that the body as a site of performativity can be used, especially in the arts, as a means to resist conventions regarding gender, race and other social conceptions. The performance thus becomes a way to reclaim control over the body and celebrate its liberation from the confine of definitions based on expectations.
The largely silent part of the piece allows for a participatory experience that highlights the extent to which existence is itself a performance as the air-con hums continuously throughout, and as spectators fidget, shuffle, cough or whisper in keeping with the rhythm on stage.
The second part of the show, Playing Audience, then, proves as a bit of an irrelevant addition to an already well-formed concept as it is a discussion in which each member of the trio observes the movements of the other two while guiding the audience to consider the concepts of time, space and perception of the privileges of sight.
Photo: Camilla Greenwell
Nora Invites Deborah Hay – Where Home Is was at Sadler’s Wells from 24th until 25th April 2019.