“Puppets and pedantry”
- What: Nike by Dudapaiva Co.
- Where: Palazzo Sturm
- When: Thursday 21st August, 2.30pm
What looks at first like being a slightly hammy kids’ show quickly turns into something profoundly uncomfortable. Performer Paiva is a powerfully built man. Nike is a lithe and squidgy polyurethane puppet, with long, slender limbs, impossibly pert breasts and huge, saucer-like eyes. She resembles an amateurish recreation of a Barbie, a convincing and unsettling presence.
It’s just a puppet, I remind myself throughout the show.
Paiva begins a duet with Nike. His arm inside a cavity in her back, his hand inside her skull, he breathes life into the lump of sponge. She trembles and tries to hide. She gasps as though drawing breath for the first time. She clings to Paiva, uncertain. When she tries to leave, he holds her back. She seems profoundly frightened.
It’s just a puppet.
Paiva tries to elicit laughs from the audience. Nike seems perplexed by her own movements, surprised to find her leg extended behind her back to touch her own head. Watching this feels like being complicit in something slightly grotesque.
It’s just a puppet.
Finally, Nike grows wings. Paiva tears them slowly from her back while she gasps in pain. It’s both horrifying and agonising to watch. He leaves her, broken, on the floor, her final sad and desperate bid for freedom confounded, and uses the wings himself to fly away.
It’s just a bloody puppet.
Nike is a children’s show. The children clap after. During the performance, some of them laughed. As they file out of the Palazzo, they don’t seem unsettled.
In Ireland, where I am from, the media is currently saturated with feminist issues and feminist anger, particularly about female agency in relation to the female body. Abortion is high on the political agenda at the moment, a focus that bleeds into many aspects of news reporting. It could be that I’m primed to wince at anything that suggests a reinforcement of a negative stereotype of male-female dynamics.
Nike was a goddess after all, not a woman.
by Rachel Donnelly
Thanks to Rachel Donnelly, a collegue from Communicatig Dance project, for her contribute during BMotion dance programme 2014through this blog: here we publish an article about «NIKE» by Dudapaiva Co.
You can read the article on Rachel blog here!
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