Review: The Colour White – West Side Circus
When I first heard about ‘The Colour White’ I was instantly drawn in, the idea that the medium of circus could be used to explore society’s perception of beauty was something that I found both fascinating and insanely innovative! The performance explores what it means to be ‘beautiful’. The proliferation of (mostly) young non Caucasian people apparently attempting to look more Western by physically altering their bodies through medical and surgical procedures, ‘The Colour White’ looks at whether this phenomenon is a product of a media over saturated with images that depict Whiteness as beautiful
The performance starts with a darkened room, only a dim backing light illuminates the stage. Whilst the audience is taking their seats 3 ambiguous figures start to congregate onto the stage, morphing their bodies into shapes; stretching, rolling, jumping and moving.
The performance starts with an individual piece by each of the 3 main protagonists. One of the pieces explores skin bleaching, or whitening of the skin; the performer literally takes off layers of skin, each time revealing a lighter tone, every movement is meticulously timed with the uncomfortable sound of screeching and tearing from the speakers that surround the audience. This exploration of beauty is further explored through another solo piece, which is focused on the unorthodox procedure of leg lengthening. The performer juxtaposes this exploration with the use of the tap dance medium, thrusting and pounding her feet on the ground, mimicking the breaking of bones and tearing of tendon. Another performance piece explores society’s obsession with having tanned, golden skin, this theme is explored through the use of a unicycle, moving so quickly and vigorously around the stage, possibly in an attempt to show the speed and force to which the sun can actually impact upon a person’s skin tone.
The performance uses an audio motif of what appears to be real life accounts of these procedures in practice, these documentary pieces of audio content are played over the speakers instead of music a lot of the time, which create an absolute and everlasting impact amongst the audience.
‘The Colour White’ is not for the faint hearted, but is an important piece of art that reflects a very important social issue within our global society. Relevant, poignant, technical and raw – ‘The Colour White’ is not only an amazing piece, but a necessary exploration in this day and age.
Written By: Nabila Petrucci, June 2014
More by Art Smitten
Creative Learning Producer Joshua Cowie tells Anthony, Maria and Smithers about the Arts Centre Melbourne’s Associated Program accompanying the Melbourne Theatre Company’s season […]