Saturday, April 12, 2014

CoisCéim, 'Swimming With My Mother': Like a Duck to Water

David Bolger revises his swimming moves in this sweet duet between the choreographer and his mother. 

Project Arts Centre
Apr 8-12

A few quick thoughts on Swimming With My Mother by David Bolger coming up just as soon as I don't look at my feet ...

It's been a busy spring for CoisCéim with their residency in the National Gallery, the premiere of the incendiary AGNES, and now the touring of duets Missing and Swimming With My Mother

Swimming With My Mother, premiered in 2010, is a duet between the dancer and his mother Madge, a swimming instructor. With glittering choreography, Bolger marries his mother's water manoeuvres with her ballroom dancing, tracing not only a physicality but a lineage; motion runs in the family.

As Bolger skitters boyishly around his mother, landing with aplomb, the adroit Madge makes spectacular strokes. It's sincerely sweet to watch. 

However I'm beginning to see that Bolger can let his sentimentality get the better of him. I first felt it in the closing moments of AGNES, when the choreography halted to the image of a spotlight shone on an empty chair, leaving the audience to listen to music for several minutes. While the performance had done a good job of bringing us closer to Bernelle, of physicalising the disheveled world in her songs, the ending felt skewed by Bolger's sentimentality for the artist. Expected to honour an empty spotlight, we realise that just as we were forming our individual sense of who Agnes was, the performance is taken over by Bolger's sense of who Agnes was.

Swimming With My Mother is gorgeous dance theatre but I find that CoisCéim, while always astute in arranging bodies and objects onstage in relation to how they are organised in society, are more considerable when they create those spaces that need to be created, where we can reimagine our material culture like that in Touch Me, and where the lost are illuminated as in the poignant Missing

What did everyone else think of Swimming With My Mother?

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