Victoria Fringe Festival 2017 – Naked Ugly Dancing
Review by Tony Carter – Showbill.ca Staff Writer
August 26, 2017
The 2017 Victoria Fringe Festival program describes “Naked Ugly Dancing” as “like Butoh but worse.” This is accurate.
For anyone who is unfamiliar, butoh is a form of Japanese dance theatre and performance art. Naked Ugly Dancing does deliver on what the title promises. Performer Tasha Diamant does get naked and does spend at least most of the show’s 75 minute runtime “ugly dancing.” She does this while flanked by two enormous prints: one of the tumour she had removed and the other of her from 11 years ago, still naked with text (that contains at least one typo) over her. Half of the chairs in the audience have a cue card with a word or phrase written it. These range from: “I feel like my skin has been peeled off” to “I am a big fucking baby” to “complaint.” These could be jumping off points to be incorporated into the performance, and there were two instances where they were thanks to Diamant having two friends in the audience. In truth, these two friends seem to be the only thing that give the show any direction at all.
Diamant states early on that she gets naked so that she can be vulnerable, but she also states that she is really bad at being vulnerable. Instead of encouraging her to open up to the audience, her nudity seemed more like an excuse not to. She could have talked about her trauma from her experience with cancer. Instead she writes it off with a “but, whatever.” She could have talked about subverting the power dynamic by being a naked woman who is empowered by her nudity. She doesn’t.
She does make time to compare shamans to artists, to lament her own whiteness without going into any kind of digression of analysis of race or privilege, and to criticise the performance art of Marina “the grandmother of performance art” Abramovic as being too confrontational and that if Abramovic was a mother then her work would clearly but much more like what Diamant is doing.
THE BOTTOM LINE
“I don’t think of myself as enlightened,” says Diamant. “I just think of myself as having something to offer.” If that is true, Naked Ugly Dancing does not make it clear what that something is.
Human Body Project
Created by Tasha Diamant
Victoria Fringe Festival
Venue 2 (Downtown Community Centre)
- Aug 27 @ 1:15pm
- Aug 28 @ 9:15pm
- Aug 29 @ 7:45pm
- Sept 2 @ 12:15pm