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Monday, September 13, 2010

SoloShow: Beautiful, But....

Posted by Noah Dunham on Mon, Sep 13, 2010 at 12:38 AM

MHA-soloshow_1.jpg
I have mixed feelings about Maria Hassabi's SoloShow, which runs for two more nights (the 13th & 14th, 8:30 pm) at Imago Theater. Part of me could really get into what Hassabi was wanting to convey. The other part of me thought that the overall presentation of the show may have gotten in the way of itself.

SoloShow is conceived, directed, and performed completely by Hassabi. It deals, for the most part, with the subject of the female form seen through the scopes of art history, pop-culture, pornography, and sexuality. The performance is essentially a series of provocative poses that Hassabi strings together on top of a raised platform, scooting from one pose to another with a slow and deliberate pace. Upon entering the theater we see Hassabi sitting stationary, the lights up above glaring on us as well as on her, the speakers blaring the sounds of a busy gallery or museum. It becomes apparent that we are to be keenly aware of our roles as spectators. And we are to look at this female form (both Hassabi, and Hassabi as womankind) as if it is on display. And then perhaps meditate on how the female form has been on display through the ages. It has been used for pleasure, for art, for power, for wealth. Hassabi makes this fairly clear. Or at least it makes some impact. The concentration of Hassabi's performance alone depicts this. Her presence and the versatility she contains in her body are brilliant aspects of her craft, and she uses them fully to express her message.

So what's the problem? What am I so unsure about?
Well, to put it simply: I'm not sure that the means met the ends. Or that is to say, I'm not sure SoloShow was able to effectively communicate to it's audience through the medium it utilized. I after all, went into the show with some TBA Cliffnotes which helped but...
The piece was extremely slow, it was very quiet, and also had little to no changes in pace or action. Which basically made it easy to ignore. My mind at times would wander. My eyes drooped. And distractions ran wild with the sounds and movements of fellow audience members. There just wasn't anything to firmly grab onto or get excited about. Which isn't necessarily a good thing, when trying to shed light onto the subject of objectification.
Alas, I believe that it is a piece that garners a general reaction that many a contemporary dance work receives: It was beautiful to watch, but didn't fully convey the substance it was built from.

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