Claudia Edwards’s Grief Dances is adigital performance by two dancers, Edwards and Jess Paris in two separate locations yet sharing the same screen. As they begin to move side by side, their patterns of dance seem to intertwine and yet differentiate in their style, leaving the viewer to create their own connections between the two, and our own judgements of what they are portraying through their body.
As the title would suggest, the topics of grief, coping and the continuous flow of life settle through each bend of the dancers’ bodies. However, with each changing moment that the dancers display, we are experience a great freedom of interpreting their movements to form our own perceptions of the story being told. With this, we find our own personal experiences of grief and loss bleed into their performance so that every audience member views a different show with individual meanings.
Both dancers are in different natural environments. One looked like she was on a cliff top by the ocean, and the other by a river in a country park. Again, both connected through the natural spaces, breathing the same air, enveloped by the same life source, and yet they stood in seemingly different places with separate dancing techniques. It is when I read the performance description that I realise the background has as much significance to the piece as the performers’ actions. Edwards writes about the link between decolonisation and grief, and how the death and reclaiming of these natural spaces is as much of an emotional and physical process that should be expressed through the medium of dance.
Although the duration of the piece is perhaps stretched past its necessary plotline, this gives us, as the viewer, a lot of extra material to then figure out what the performers are trying to say/what they mean. Grief is such a personal response to experience and express, and so there is a multitude of possible ways to perform the concept of it. However, what I gain from the performance is the essence of the constant highs and lows of grief. The waves of remembrance, trauma and anxiety that comes alongside it, yet shows itself with different strengths at different times. Despite this, it never quite goes away, but lingers as a constant energy that sits under the skin, moving you forward and adjusting your person, your body and your rhythms, just as the dancers present.
Grief Dances encapsulates the bodily expression needed when coping with grief whilst also portraying the necessity of space and natural freedoms. The two talented dancers embody a whole spectrum of emotion without needing any words to express this, yet they show us their meanings through their bodies.
Grief Dances played as part of the Buzzcut, performances to camera festival until the 5th of June. For more information and tickets, see Buzzcut Festival’s website.