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May 4, 2009 | by  | in Theatre |
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She Wore a Becoming Dress

Attending theatre should be an experience; and the best kind is when every single thing around the audience creates that. Rarely do I have the joy of fully experiencing this, but upon entering She Wore a Becoming Dress I stepped into a large-scale world fashion show, where the thrust stage was a catwalk, the audience became the audience at a fashion show, the two dancers, dresser and AV operator were all a part of the fashion show I had been transported into.

She Wore a Becoming Dress is a butoh dance performance exploring gender constructions and the effects of the fashion industry on women today, created by the Wellington-based arts company With Lime, who describe themselves as “an international, intercultural, interdisciplinary arts company … with the long-term goal of social and cultural change”.

Miki Seifert and Anahera Gildea ‘s controlled trance-like movement is mesmerising to watch. Butoh is a free form of dance that originated in Japan, but both performers said that they did not feel that they were presenting a Japanese art form, rather something very personal to themselves and their own situations, Seifert as an American woman and Gildea as a Maori woman.

Janet Dunn’s costume design is effective and complex in meaning. As Seifert dances, she slowly and sensually strips off layers of clothing, eventually revealing grotesquely shaped cushions that distort, falsely shape and sexualise her body.

Fern Karun and William France’s Audio Visual design is an excellent extension of the live performance adding layers of meaning. Film is projected onto the bodies of the performers and images of high profile fashion shows are projected onto two walls, giving each of the three sides of the audience different experiences.

She Wore a Becoming Dress is a compelling, visually stunning and thought-provoking performance of feeling and intellect.

Miki Seifert is a PhD candidate at Te Kawa a Maui at Victoria University. He rawetona kakahu. She Wore A Becoming Dress is part of her PhD research project called Seeds of Dialogue. She Wore a Becoming Dress was funded by New Zealand International Doctoral Research Scholarship and The Research Trust of Victoria University of Wellington.

Created and performed by Miki Seifert and Anahera Gildea
Production designer William Franco
Wellington Film Archive, 17 and 18 April

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About the Author ()

Fiona was named "Recessionista" in the ASPA Fashion Awards 2009 for her Takaka op-shop frock and spray painted shoes. She co-edits the arts section and also likes to write about women and other stuff.

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