Funny / Funeral

Funny / Funeral
Performers: Sabina Perry / Molly Johnson
The Citadel, Toronto
March 30-April 2 2016
Funny / Funeral features two World Premieres of new works by Sabina Perry and Molly Johnson.
Molly Johnson's solo, choreographed by Sabina Perry, is titled Funeral For My 20s. We first see her hiding her eyes behind  glasses with dark reflective lenses. Dressed in red, she poses alluringly, trying to convey a sexy image that is awkward and not all there.
Stepping out of this image, she stands holding a sign reading "Past is Present." This sums up the content of her piece, which deals with her struggles to deal with the past and all the failures, emotional heartbreaks and relationship debacles that live embedded within her body-- and her journey to maturity and a fulfilling dance career.
There are two segments that stand out for me. In one she stands by the wall, stage left, and stares at us. Her face vividly expresses her anguish while at the same time radiating a coy alluring look. She gradually moves down the wall to the back, where she slides along that wall, taking up yoga-based positions and others that are off balance. 
In the other she begins as an isolated figure on a white floor, moving aimlessly in and out and around. Strobes. A disco setting. Soft lime-green lighting counterpointing the sudden hardness of blaring upbeat music and her movements that evoke her anger, sadness and frustration. They are distorted and frantic. Arms slashing out. Fingers clenched. Ending in exhaustion. Lying on her side making mewling sounds like a cat or baby.
This catharsis is followed by her moving slowly toward us, her face registering a playfulness that was not there before. Without dialogue. Just her present in the moment hilariously interconnecting with us.
Funny Girl is the second  piece, choreographed and performed by Sabina Perry. She runs on stage towards a microphone. And falls. Blackout. Thunking sound. Lights up. And there she is, splayed out on the floor. Tries to get up but somehow has difficulty getting there. One can feel her mental and physical exertion and frustration. Arriving at last she appears relaxed and confident as she introduces herself.
She notes that people always thought she was hilarious, which does not help a dancer in developing her career. A teacher once singled her out in a class for her flailing unfocused movements.
She explains how lonely she was when she first moved to Europe. Those her age were either single moms or undergoing therapy. Or worse, she was surrounded by self-important people who cannot travel to tourist attractions or go anywhere without putting themselves in the picture.
This text-based comical presentation is punctuated by a dance soundtrack, featuring her in awkward ungainly dance language, summing up her state of mind at that time.
The piece ends in a festive party scene complete with confetti and balloons, with Perry cracking jokes in rapid fire succession.
An overall funny yet poignant show on the ups and downs of two dancers on their journey of self-discovery.
They know their success is transitory, and acknowledge this in this hilarious quote from the programme notes:
"You think beautiful girls are going to stay in style forever? I should say not! Any moment now they are going to be out! Finished! Then it'll be my turn." -- Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl (1968)