Reviews/Contemporary dance/Dance/Fringe World Festival

In pursuit of pleasure

28 January 2022

In exploring pleasure in its various forms, Giorgia Schijf and her dancers bring that very commodity to the audience, discovers Nina Levy.

Pursuit, Enneagon Movement ·
Rehearsal Room 1 at the State Theatre Centre of WA, 27 January 2022 · 

“What do you see if you close your eyes and think of pleasure?”

That’s one of the questions asked in Pursuit, a Fringe World dance work by local emerging choreographer Giorgia Schijf. With the dial firmly turned to light-hearted, Schijf and her cast of seven dancers invite the audience into a delightfully comical exploration of pleasure and the ways in which we find it.

Strikingly clad in an array of sensual crimson outfits, the dancers perform a series of vignettes that segue seamlessly from one to the next.

There’s the short-lived endorphin-rush of new clothes (and new clothes smell), the heady rush of playground games, the salty sensation of the ocean (and the less pleasant sensation of sand in places it shouldn’t be).

There’s the bubbling feeling when you’re trying to stifle laughter but it just keeps seeping and spilling through your very pores, which had the opening night audience cackling in recognition.

Pictured is 6 Enneagon Movement dancers, they all wear crimson red costumes and hold a hand to their head.
Enneagon Movement dancers in ‘Pursuit’. Emily Tuckwell, Minni Karamfiles and Francesca Fenton are front. Photo: Simeon Neo

And there’s my favourite segment, which I’ll call “Busting for a wee”. Thighs clamped, eyes desperate, the dancers stagger about the stage, to the incongruous but somehow apt “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”. The resolution is joyous and oh-so-relatable. Channelling her powerful physicality for comic good, Alex Kay is a standout in this scene. 

Emily Tuckwell also provides various moments of comedy gold, whether offering the audience her foot or the finger. 

Driven by composer Sophia Hansen-Knarhoi’s acoustic and electronic score, which variously trickles, tumbles, pulses and pushes, the choreography is varied, ranging from the snappy, hippy gyrations to scooping, swirling phrases. While Kay is again notable for her tornado-like energy, all the dancers are – appropriately – a pleasure to watch. 

Surprisingly, there is no overt reference to sexual pleasure, but presumably this is a deliberate omission and the work doesn’t suffer for its absence. 

While the opening and closing scenes could be punchier – the work seems to fade in and out of existence – the body is strong. This isn’t Pursuit’s first outing – it debuted at Huzzard Studios as part of Fringe World 2021 – and there’s a confidence in the room that, presumably, comes from experience. 

It’s a rare commodity in the chronically underfunded world of independent dance. 

Having seen a number of Fringe World works, this year and last, in the State Theatre Centre’s Rehearsal Room 1, it’s pleasing to see space organised so that all audience members have an unencumbered view of what’s happening on stage.

And in this case, it’s well worth seeing. Go on, give yourself a little pleasure.

2023 update: Pursuit is playing the Joondalup Festival, 25 March

Pursuit continues at the State Theatre Centre of WA until 29 January.

Pictured top: The Enneagon Movement’s performance is a pleasure to watch. L-R: Emily Coles, Anna Milburn, Minni Karamfiles, Francesca Fenton, Jo Omodei and Alex Kay. Photo: Simeon Neo

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Author —
Nina Levy

Nina Levy has worked as an arts writer and critic since 2007. She co-founded Seesaw and has been co-editing the platform since it went live in August 2017. As a freelancer she has written extensively for The West Australian and Dance Australia magazine, co-editing the latter from 2016 to 2019. Nina loves the swings because they take her closer to the sky.

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