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Wrongheaded review at Dance Base, Edinburgh – ‘subtle and poignant’

Wrongheaded at Dance Base. Photo: Ewa Figaszewska Wrongheaded at Dance Base. Photo: Ewa Figaszewska
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Two female dancers tread gingerly across an empty space. Beneath them, a video projection on the floor displays fleeting images of stark grey rocks, ice and something that resembles a gloop of frogspawn.

A complicated interplay between frozenness and fecundity, burden and loss, is key to Dublin-based choreographer Liz Roche’s Wrongheaded, originally made two years ago in response to the call to repeal the Irish constitution’s 8th amendment.

While the recent referendum might have dealt a de facto blow to religious conservatism and sexual inequality, Roche’s work still resonates, making manifest long-established psychological patterns of fear, repression and shame that surround the issue of abortion.

It’s a piece that plays cleverly, but never explicitly, with the scrutiny and judgement of female bodies. Dancers Justine Cooper and Sarah Cerneaux are by turns frantic and constrained, simultaneously skittish and freighted. They scramble to change direction as if seeking escape, sometimes still and supine, their fingers tensely splayed.

There’s a sense of lonely interiority here, even in the shared effort of a lift or the touch of hands. This intense inwardness is heightened by the verbal accompaniment of Elaine Feeney’s poetry, a striking stream-of-consciousness that traces evocative nuances of guilt, rage and grief.

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Subtle, poignant dance work based around issues of abortion in Ireland