I met Jen a few years ago, being blissfully unaware at that time that she is the most sublime dancer. I admit I went through a short period of semi-worship when I first saw her youtube videos. Her style, ease and unique perspective give her a trademark look that makes her work immediately identifiable. In a few words words I would call her work ethereal, insightful and engaging, always communicating unspeakable things while remaining grounded in her integrity as an artist.
Traveller and Unraveller is a showcase for the London College of Fashion's Costume for Theatre, Makeup for Theatre and Technical Effects for Theatre BA Degree students 2011. The show took place at the Cochrane Theatre in London, a wonderful and intimate space where it was pleasurably easy to enjoy the finer details of this fantastical creation. The part of Young Tobias was played by Louise Marie Kerr, a prominent UK actress (her casting call pro page is here: http://www.uk.castingcallpro.com/view.php?uid=191249). The show had a fascinating fairytale backstory, which you can read here: http://web.me.com/jennifer.j.w.essex/Site/Current_Productions.html.
The show was sponsored by, among others, the pioneering makeup brand Illamasqua whom I have blogged at length about before (see here). During my cheeky peek backstage, while nitpicking over the finer details of the exquisite prosthetics, I saw a lot of Illamasqua products, and then - to my delight - a lot of Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics (see more here). Yes! I eagerly harrassed the makeup artist about her stash...she even had the airbrush and pigments which are not availabe in the UK. I am not shy to admit that I was green about the gills, however, at the same time it was reassuring to see such a cutting edge, vegan brand utilised in a theatrical environment. According to the makeup artist I was chatting to, the airbrush pigments by OCC adhered impressively to the dancers for the duration of the performance. No sweat! It is not easy to find makeup that can endure theatrical lighting and the vigour of dance, so for me that was exciting to hear.
The show itself was a visual feast, an orgy of fantasy forced into temporary existance. Jen's concepts for the costumes streched the graduates to their creative limits. There were living, floating bubbles, earthen root creatures, umbilical magical tribal gods, chalky pteradactyls and terrifyingly beautiful metallic inverted hedgehog beings with rhythmical spines. The show was so well paced that we had more than enough time to absorb the details of these creations, which was really satisfying. I am still reeling at the impression of the spiky metal creatures...it is impossible to describe them in words. I do believe they are a creation of pure genius and whomever the student is who came up with that concept, I applaude you! I have some pictures , but they really only give a vague impression of the amazing-ness off the LCF students' work. It was an audio-visual phenomenon!
If you are in London and you are looking for something unusual and exciting to experience this weekend, then definitely go and see this show! It is on for two more nights only so be quick! You can buy tickets here: http://sa1.seatadvisor.com/sabo/servlets/EventSearch?presenter=TLCOCHRANE
Prosthetic head being applied to a dancer
Tobias, the Unraveller
Traveller and Unraveller
Cochrane Theatre, Holborn, London
Choreography, Concept and Direction: Jennifer Essex
Design Mentor: Di Mainstone
Composer: Borisa Sabljic
Writer: Harry Man
Video: Ian Pons Jewell and Tim Harrison
Performers: Marie Ronold Mathisen, Elodie Frati, Rhiannon Roberts, Verity Hopkins, Rachael Fraser, Vanessa Abreu, Joelle Naomi Green, Jac Johnston, Sonya Cullingford, Jess Williams, Bianca Silcox, Grace Hann, Jacob Smart, Elena Zino, Anne-Maarit Kinnunen, Elizabeth West, Jo Davie, Alice Cade, Tereza Havlickova, Georgia-Grace Riley
Costumes Designed and Realized by: The Students of the London College of Fashion