At this year’s edition of the Dublin Fringe Festival, Irish dancer Rachel Ní Bhraonaín presented her new piece, a clever mix of drama and dance called Losing Your Body.
It all starts with a monologue. First communicating through her body moves, Rachel Ní Bhraonaín dances, attached to a string, like a dismantled puppet. She suddenly stops, sits down on an imaginary office chair and starts introducing herself with her fast paced, sharp-witted words. The character is immediately endearing to the public: she quickly reveals details of her life, details everyone could relate to.
The words, flowing fast like the stream of her thoughts, quickly betray her anxiety, which she describes with brutal honesty and with a touch of humour. ‘I just cry. A lot. In public.’
Losing your body also tackles the issue of dissociation between her mind and body. The character the public gets to know, this dissociation seems to come from her career as a dancer, pushing herself to surpass her body’s abilities, ignoring pain as well as her physical and mental limits.
This dissociative feeling, linked to the experience of migraines, is cleverly shown through choices of mise en scène that extract the public from reality. Flashing lights, sound interferences and saturated guitars help to create this nightmarish and immersive environment.
To illustrate the sensation of drifting away from her own body, another dancer in some scenes of beautiful symmetrical dance backs Rachel. They dance tied to each other, and each movement one does affects the other. The most striking and moving episode in the performance unfolds movingly through a stirring choreography to the music of Marvin Gaye’s Sunny. It highlights and illustrates a strong sense of powerlessness.
Eventually, she seems to learn to live with ‘it’. The doppelganger that was the oppressive force becomes congenial, as the two dancers move closer and closer to each other.