It is danse, not dance, because it was in France where Rosalind Crisp realised what she needed to do next. She needed to challenge all the moves and positions that controlled her body after years of ballet and dance training. The one-woman performance begins with a video of Crisp. She moves incessantly. She is a puppet rebelling against her puppeteer. There is an energy inside in search of escape into a movement. That elusive movement is constrained by habits and training. It’s like watching someone running in different directions looking for a way out of a labyrinth.
By the side of the screen Crisp begins to move. A light is shone upon her. There is no music, no sounds, only her breath. Her constant focused movement is gripping. You can’t stop watching her. She begins to talk to the audience. “Sorry I can’t speak Welsh. I’m stuck with English, French, and dance,” she says, “The problem with dance is that,” she whispers, “people don’t understand it.”
What at first might have felt a terribly serious performance turns into a warm and humorous connection with the audience. Crisp tells us about dance and we respond laughing, smiling, and watching her every move. Her self-irony makes her work true and accessible. There is not an ounce of pretension.
Crisp rocks. Literally. She dances to rock music and then tells us that she stopped doing that because it makes you thirsty and there’s lack of water in Australia. Crisp is striking for her earnestness and deep levity. She is deep, just not serious. She is also poetic in how she describes movements wanting to elope with dancers and the dancer being seduced by the promise of being carried away. She ends with a video of herself on a mound of earth and dead vegetation to be witness to the devastation of the bushes in Australia due to deforestation. Her body cries the loss of life.
La grande dame of dance, France awarded her the title of Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Dame of the Arts), is funny with no histrionics, gripping with no artifice, and weird, beautifully so.