“If There’s Not Dancing at the Revolution, I’m Not Coming”
Reviewer: Jocelyn Chng
Performance: 18 January 2018
If There’s Not Dancing is inspired by Laura Mulvey’s concept of the male gaze. However, given that this concept was introduced in the 1970s, a work drawn largely from it risks feeling dated and cliché. And indeed, this piece does not say anything that hasn’t already been said before.
Presented as one of the Fringe Highlights of the M1 Singapore Fringe Festival 2018, If There’s Not Dancing is directed by Virginia Frankovich and performed by Julia Croft. It is a pastiche of popular culture references from mostly 1990s and 2000s films and pop songs, which show women invariably being presented in a sexualised or violent manner. Interspersed among these clips are her antics. In one amusing segment, Croft recites the lines from the iconic scene from Titanic (1997) where Rose asks Jack to draw her in the nude, while lying on her side and accompanying the text with over-dramatic gestures.
An abrupt sound cue signals the end of each short segment, sometimes catching Croft mid-action. She immediately abandons whatever she is doing and strips off a layer of clothing to reveal another layer underneath. The sheer number of costumes she wears is impressive, especially considering the props that she manages to hide within them. At one point, she reveals a McDonald’s burger, fries and a can of Coke that were stuffed into her bikini and in random pockets. She then proceeds to eat the meal – jubilantly at first, but eventually degenerating into a frantic, oily mess in the middle of the stage. A while later, she produces two halves of an onion, rubbing them into her eyes. These more visceral sections produce audible gasps from the audience, both of admiration and disgust.
Finally, as one begins to wonder just how many layers of costumes she could possibly be wearing, Croft ends up nude. The use of a literal striptease to make a statement about the representation of women is cheeky and self-reflexive, but nevertheless rather predictable.
One particularly powerful and disconcerting segment involves the audio of Taylor Swift’s “Love Story” (2008) playing over the house, with the lyrics of a rap song, “Wait (The Whisper Song)” (2005) by the Ying Yang Twins, simultaneously projected onto the screen. It is crucial that we see, but not hear, the lyrics of “Wait”, which connote explicit sexual violence against women. We want to believe the saccharine, fairytale narrative of “Love Story”, but reality – which often goes unsaid and unheard – is often much uglier.
The piece is in general brilliantly executed – in terms of coordination of the various elements in the show, and the performance quality. Nevertheless, I question how the piece really “challenge[s] the treatment of women’s bodies as spectacle in popular culture”, as the synopsis claims. It seems to me that weaving together various references, and putting the body on display, only goes so far as to highlight, but not exactly challenge, that treatment.
Do you have an opinion or comment about this post? Email us at email@example.com.
ABOUT THE PRODUCTION
IF THERE’S NOT DANCING AT THE REVOLUTION, I’M NOT COMING by Julia Croft
18 – 20 January 2018
Esplanade Annexe Studio
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Jocelyn holds a double Masters in Theatre Studies/Research. She is a founding member of the Song and Dance (SoDa) Players – a registered musical theatre society in Singapore. She is currently building her portfolio career as an educator and practitioner in dance and theatre, while pursuing an MA in Education (Dance Teaching).