the honeymoon suite
Dance, News, Performing arts, Reviews

A trip into retro-wonderland

Fringe World review: The Honeymoon Suite by Bernadette Lewis ·
Paper Mountain gallery, 1 February ·
Review by Nina Levy ·

Entering the Paper Mountain gallery space to see Bernadette Lewis’s The Honeymoon Suite, I come upon two be-sequinned dancers lying entwined, pretzel-like, around one another. Part-performance, part installation, two gallery walls feature luminous, blue-hued stills of the dancers, by photographer Emma Fishwick. The other two display an assortment of objects united by pinkness; flowers, hand-weights, slippers, ice cream cones, puzzle pieces.

The gallery, which is unusually long and narrow for a dance performance space, is mostly taken up by a rubber dance floor; the audience hovers at its edge, bathed in the subtle rosy glow that illuminates the show as a whole. There’s a gently 80s vibe permeating the room; the sequins, the neon sign, the background pop music, the musk sticks on offer.

The segue between before-the-show and the-show-has-definitely-started is subtle, appropriately, perhaps, for a work that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Musically the vibe hovers somewhere between lounge and the aforementioned 80s pop, with a handful of electronica thrown in for good measure.

Against this soundscape the movement teeters between sensual and silly, occasionally tipping into sinister. Now the dancers (Laura Boynes and Tanya Brown) recline like glamorous 50s film stars, their long hair flung back, their fingers holding invisible cigarettes aloft. Now they traverse the width of the performance space on their bottoms, hips shifting in a comical race to the end. Now they become entangled as they wrestle, more foes than friends. Boynes and Brown are gorgeous to watch as they morph, with careless ease, through the many moods of this work.

A fabulously kooky scene sees the dancers become a moving, ice-cream eating sculpture. Another involves climbing the walls, hanging from the window frames and Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart”.

Without giving too much away, the bouncing grand finale is highly satisfying, although as one of the audience members hauled (reluctantly) on stage, the closing moments felt anti-climactic. Aside from my aversion to audience participation, I would have liked to have seen this entertaining concept further developed.

Nonetheless, The Honeymoon Suite is trip into a retro-wonderland. It’s well worth 30 minutes of your time.

‘The Honeymoon Suite’ plays Paper Mountain gallery until February 5 and the installation may be viewed during gallery opening hours (9.30am-5pm).

Pictured top: One of the images on display as part of the installation/performance. Pictured: Laura Boynes. Photo: Emma Fishwick.

The Honeymoon Suite
Dance, News, Performing arts

Abundantly kitsch

Those who were lucky enough to get a sneak peek at Bernadette Lewis’s “The Honeymoon Suite” in STRUT Dance’s “Short Cuts” program last year will know that the work is imbued with both sensuality and satire. Seesaw found out a little more about the dynamic emerging choreographer behind “The Honeymoon Suite”, ahead of its Fringe World season.

Bernadette Lewis
Bernadette Lewis. Photo: Jenni Large.

Seesaw: Tell us about your training… formal training, on-the-job, or a bit of both?
Bernadette Lewis: I began my training as an elite level gymnast at age seven, retiring from my Olympic pursuit at the ripe old age of 12 when I started my formal classical, jazz and contemporary dance training. I completed my BA in dance at WAAPA in 2005 and then temporarily retired again before returning for my honours year with LINK Dance Company in 2011. I’ve been learning on the job ever since.

S: Describe your artistic practice…
BL: My artistic practice crosses performance, choreography, teaching and community engagement. My choreographic works are moving pastiches that drive toward a dialogue or confluence of high art and pop culture.

S: Career highlight so far?
BL: So hard to pick one, but definitely up there is returning to LINK as a guest artist in 2015 to perform in Didier Théron’s Shanghai Bolero at the Fremantle Arts Centre.

S: Career lowlight?
BL: The inevitable gaps in work that we independent artists face year in, year out.

S: What do you love most about what you do?
BL: Being able to share the absolute joy of dance with all walks of life from professionals, to young aspiring dancers, to kids who can’t afford dance and to seniors who always wanted to.

S: Tell us about your 2018 Fringe show, The Honeymoon Suite!
BL: The Honeymoon Suite is a short, contemporary dance work staged in a light, photography and found object installation. It’s a neon, time travelling dreamscape that collages together vintage women’s wrestling, 1940’s beauty queens and the best of 1980’s exercise fads with all the religious fervour of a devout, Mexican Luchadora. It’s a bit slapstick, a bit satirical and abundantly kitsch.

It’s performed by Laura Boynes and Tanya Brown, with killer photography by Emma Fishwick and will be full of colour thanks to some very sage lighting advice from Chris Donnelly.

S: You’ve performed in Fringe before but not presented your own work. What made you decide to give Fringe World a whirl as a maker?
BL: I’ve been very choosy about entering the Fringe domain as a presenter and have been waiting for the right opportunity to present the right work for some time now. I was determined to be involved in a curated program so when Paper Mountain’s Peaks call out was announced I didn’t want to miss out. I’m a big fan of their volunteer/co-op model and am really interested in placing dance in non-conventional spaces. The Paper Mountain Gallery is an absolute gift for us.

S: Aside from your show, what are you looking forward to seeing/doing at Fringe?
BL: I can’t wait to see the rest of the Peaks program and “MicroMove” at The Blue Room as part of Summer Nights, where I’ll be performing in Scott Elstermann’s Act 2, Scenes 1-4 – The Murder / The Horror / The Arrest / The Escape.

S: What is your favourite playground equipment? 
BL: The swings. No doubt about it.

‘The Honeymoon Suite’ plays Paper Mountain, February 1-5.

Pictured top is dancer Laura Boynes. Photo: Emma Fishwick.

Calendar, Dance, February 18, Installation, Performing arts, Photography, Visual arts

Fringe World: The Honeymoon Suite

1-4 February @ 7pm, 5 February @ 6pm @ Paper Mountain Gallery ∙
Presented by: Bernadette Lewis ∙

A multidisciplinary performance installation. An intimate dialogue between light, photography, found object and dance. Drive on down to the strange lands of vintage women’s wrestling, age-old pageant queens, exercise fads and treat yourself to our neon, time travelling dreamscape.

Welcome to The Honeymoon Suite. Enjoy your stay. Don’t feed the birds. And let’s get ready to rumble!

More info: https://www.facebook.com/suitedreamshoneymooners/

Image: The Honeymoon Suite by Emma Fishwick