Tuesday, March 5

Barely Visible – Jacksons Lane

“How can you know you’re a lesbian if you’ve never been with a woman?” was one of the interesting thoughts made by an audience member concerning the subjects addressed by Rowena Gander, who had us spellbound with her outstanding performance.

Barely Visible is a solo performance choreographed and performed by Rowena Gander, directed by Elinor Randle, and backed by a creative team that worked with digital tills and lighting to generate the ambiance.  The performance addressed lesbian identity; one that is questioned, banalized, sexualized, objectified, and fetishized. “I always wanted references to relate to” was Rowena’s answer to Elinor’s question “Why did you put on this show?”. Barely Visible problematizes people’s perception of lesbianism that stems from misogynistic and patriarchal discourses. The performance addressed sensitive topics such as what it means to perform femininity, whose femininity is it and to whom? Rowena impressively worked with pole and humor as elements to convey the message, bearing in mind that the outcome is based on her personal experience as it might be specific.

My take-on of the show is the enthralling parallelism between the Object – Objectification. How does one subvert the object? Who becomes the object of gaze? The established interplay between the objectified person (a lesbian) and the object (the pole) was shown on stage. As a result, the pole responds to a series of metaphors; at some point the dancer had the power on the pole, at other times the pole was the source of pain and stigma itself. The artist interestingly worked around the idea of deconstructing the object as well as the consequences of that process. What sets the tone are no longer aesthetically pleasing movements accomplished on the pole but rather, how to look at this object that carries significant baggage and connotation. The notion of redefining objects and giving them new meanings.

Following the performance, there was an opportunity to speak with the choreographer and the director to share thoughts as well as opinions, allowing feedback.  

The performance was a space to think about the implication of political body through the medium of dance.

Reviewer: Marita Matar

Reviewed: 2nd March 2023

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★