Fantasy, Repetition, Undermining


Real/Fake til you make

Theresa Madaus

Zenon Dance Zone Concert Winter 2016

March 12, 2016


Real/Fake til you make begins with a bare and dimly lit stage. From beyond the back curtain, tucked away beneath the arch in Zenon’s studio 4A, the solo performer begins to speak. She guides us through the description of a performance and also the description our own response to this performance. We hear that we’re enthralled as the disembodied voice explains how the performance repeats unexpectedly on a smaller scale. Is this clairvoyance, inevitability, or wishful thinking?

Suddenly it’s 1984, the light in 4A is hazy, and Rachel Clark emerges from behind the pale upstage curtain draped in folds of gold lamé. She has a gold glitter cap on, she’s fascinating and beautifully androgynous. Lionel Richie sings through a backdrop of synthesizers, keys, guitars and the occasional horn in his Billboard #1 hit “Hello;” the Zenon sound system has never sounded better. Clark is lip synching but she’s also acting and dancing, performing crisp modern dance and musical theater choreography with full face choreography and emotion. There’s polyrhythm between the movement and the lyrics; Clark dominates the space carving a gigantic V that points down-center-stage. The lamé sloughs off of her, beneath she is clad in a daffodil leotard with chevrons of goldenrod fringe. She shakes off her gold cap, and an audience member holds a fan in the front row which ravages her hair in the fashion of, well, Adele’s 2015 music video for the pop singer’s own #1 song titled “Hello.”

Begin again. Lionel concludes and Rachel situates a standing fan, drapes her legs in the previously donned lamé, brandishing a picture frame. Now it’s 2015. Now superstardom settles like a mothership in the center of the studio. Sentimental keys, the sound of multi-platinum, Adele sings “Hello?” Rachel frames her face and begins to lip synch with the force of an opera singer, but her voice is silent.

The monologue becomes reality, the audience is enthralled. Who doesn’t want to be draped in gold, singing Adele at the top of their lungs, with a fan blowing on them during this sunny 65-degree March day? I do! I do! You bet I’m going home to Youtube these songs and project myself onto Rachel, Lionel, and Adele, at least what I remember of each of their performances, and what I think will feel good.

Except, wait. Now Rachel has the frame held out away from her body. A pair of lips have been applied in lipstick on her hand, she is hand-lip synching. The fantasy ends. This is just plain silliness – I don’t want to project myself onto Rachel’s hand. Look at that hand-face. It isn’t even attractive, like a weird, squished, noseless hole of a face, kind like an an–…. And now there’s not even a face, it’s a hand person, index and middle finger strutting through the picture frame and onto the floor, a few touch steps and knee, high kicks.

Adele fades out. Rachel sets the frame on the floor. The gold lamé is gathered and unfurled across her body and over her head as she goes fetal, as if to nap. The lights fade.

Fantasies are prescribed for us, we are programmed for specific desires. In Real/Fake til you make, Theresa toys with fantasy. There is a repetition at work that allows Theresa to both establish and undermine her content. The work is delivered to us via the voice and then the entire body and then the face and finally the hand. What does this breakdown of the individual indicate/allow? What parts of a person are best (or worst) suited for communicating specific intentions? By choosing Billboard #1 hit songs, Theresa taps into something about the desire to be powerful and to be heard. Singing at the top of one’s lungs is self-affirming and accessible.

Hello? Yes, I’m here. I hear you loud and clear. What’s next?

Non Edwards


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