March 20, 2023


Make Some Fun

“Emilyn Claid Untitled is magnetic” | evaluation

4 min read

Phrases by Josephine Leask. Carried out at The Place.

Emilyn Claid brings her magnetic presence and seductive interaction of identities again to the stage after 22 years together with her solo Untitled. Reflective, humorous and unbelievably transferring, she avoids an enormous Diva entrance however dazzles otherwise. Studying the right way to carry out once more as a mature, queer dancer, she teases and thrills as she eases into her altering physique. In some ways Untitled is the method of accepting and having fun with transformation and it’s riveting.

Claid begins her solo with an ending. In silence she takes up her place, centre stage in a pool of exposing mild. A clenched fist covers her mouth in a gesture of self-doubt as she tentatively walks in a circle, her focus internalised. She reaches out her arms as if to embrace the encircling house and really feel her energy, then drops right into a wide-legged, assured squat, one arm bent and resting on her hip. From this place of commentary, she appears to be like out, curious, to fulfill our gaze. 

Untitled was created by Claid’s need to carry out once more. She requested choreographers Florence Peake, Heidi Rustgaard and Joseph Mercier to assist her. Peake and Rustgaard every choreographed sections that have been interwoven and layered together with her personal materials to type a seamless entire. Their quirky, distinctive inventive voices shine via making a richly textured present that’s visually putting in imagery, narrative, motion and design.

Claid attracts on her previous, current and future. She makes reference, with an motion, a prop, anecdote or a chunk of music to her extraordinary historical past as ballet dancer, new dance pioneer, impartial artist, inventive director, instructor, author, professor and Gestalt therapist. Her collage of fabric builds on classes realized, truths revealed, tales unfinished, loves and losses. There isn’t a finish to the leisure: camped-up routines, tough-in-cheek virtuosic ballet steps and dressing up. Carrying her 72 years like a well-worn but revamped costume she performs out a lifetime of transformations as mom, lover, gender-queer lesbian, grandmother and accomplice, centered round three important props: a lavish pores and skin, a lump of clay and a theatrical headdress. 

The electropop dance music of Planningtorock begins – Claid switches into cruising gear, striding throughout the stage with needing goal. She creates her personal queer dance flooring, brimming with infinite prospects and goals, embodying its language and codes. Claid in black leather-based trousers and sleeveless prime, tattoos adorning her arms, shaved head and killer cheekbones – she’s captured us.  With small suggestive hip tilts, exact hand gestures and a seductive smile, she strikes a collection of poses on this triumphant celebration of queering. Later, she performs once more to Planningtorock’s clubby tight dance beats, rising splendidly in a pores and skin of fur and flesh-covered latex, created by designer Shanti Freed and Antonio Psaila. Lovingly stroking this magical materials, she manipulates it to turn into a loss of life shroud, the pink membrane stretched taught over her face. Then draped over her shoulders as a shaman’s cloak. However it’s additionally an erotic object of her need, unfold out like a flayed pores and skin earlier than her.  Crawling over its fury contours she caresses and sniffs earlier than dragging it possessively between her enamel and off-stage.

In a extra frivolous scene, Claid elegantly adorns herself with an enormous, extreme headdress of greenery, antlers, birds and different intriguing delights. Asking us to guess the importance of this camp extravaganza she displays again to her ballet profession, the place in a manufacturing of Cinderella she carried out as a strolling candelabra. Right here she tells of her humiliation at being given such a task – as an additional throughout the firm but in addition her gratitude to the costume division for introducing her to ballet’s camp aspect. 

Eventually she introduces the ultimate prop, a pile of moist, dripping gray clay, sitting lumpen, lifeless, sexless on its moveable desk. But it issues probably the most. She assures us she’s studying to reside with it. This natural gray matter may signify Claid’s physique – the factor that has accompanied her all her life. The factor that grows, shrinks and falls aside, that hurts and causes her disgrace. She labours to tug it throughout the stage; smears her face with its gooey matter, provides it remedy, pulls bits off, or kneads it into erotic shapes. Lastly she embraces it and in a surprising and touching motion immerses her face absolutely into the delicate, damp centre. 

Claid performs with care, rationing her power, unafraid to cease and be nonetheless. In these particular moments, alongside the enjoyable and video games, we see her vulnerability, her letting go and slowing down. Though Untitled nods to endings and closures, Claid provides us hope in her skill to channel uncertainty and carry out change. Exhibiting us the right way to give in to gravity, she reassures us that the bottom isn’t far-off.

Header picture by Dahlia Katz.