'In Bella Copia'
October 9, 2003 -- The Place: Robin Howard Dance Theatre, London
Déja Donné’s programme notes for “In Bella Copia” ended with the sentence “We will revolt………and turn to our nakedness and to the “Fair Copy” of ourselves”. I feared the worst and got it.
The recurring motif of the evening was a rendition of the song “I can’t give you anything but love, baby” interspersed with the MC’s spiel from “Cabaret”. “Bella Copia” was about three themes: sex, violence and humiliation, and the sex was mostly of the violent variety too. The setting consisted of lighting stands and a long rail of charity shop type garments, which doubled as the wings. The choreography is fast and sharp with kung fu style lunges with the arms building up an atmosphere of aggression.
A woman is graphically groped by the men to the disquiet of a young girl in an elaborate long orange dress and trailing veil observing from the back of the stage. Eventually she becomes involved in a rather clumsy sexual encounter herself, eagerly stripping her male partner down to his underpants until he turns unaccountably coy causing her to turn her attentions to one of the girls: that too is unsatisfactory and she approaches two of the men, with the words “kiss me gently”. At first they comply, but then turn rough with one of the men violating her in a vicious simulated rape.
There are some attempts at humour when a girl performs a strip tease routine in front of two slavering males, but the humour turns dark after she blindfolds one of the men with her knickers. The other man caresses him while he squirms with delight, thinking it’s the girl who is doing the stroking. On discovering he’s been involved in a gay encounter, he pursues his would-be male lover with a metal bar until his victim is forced to escape by climbing to the top of a lighting stand. His attacker then frenziedly beats at the stand, while his terrified prey (inexplicable) sheds all his clothes. Just as inexplicably, all but one of the cast follows suit and duck beneath the clothing rail to stand naked at the back of the stage. The one remaining dancer proceeds to slowly un-pin the coarse ugly wig she had been wearing, revealing her beautiful black glossy hair beneath. This was the only truly erotic image in a work concerned with sex and pleasure but delivering only uncomfortable images of violence.
Edited by Stuart Sweeney
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