Tassel Me This – glitter, glam, and genuine friendship

Photo: Jessie McCall in Tassel Me This

Tassel Me This by Jessie McCall and Shani Dickins
The Basement Theatre, 11-15 April at 8pm
Reviewed by Raewyn Whyte

There’s a particular kind of delight which comes with the performance of Tassel Me This by Jessie McCall and Shani Dickins. In part, it comes from their ever-so-subtly signalled sending-up of certain conventions of feminine friendship, a shared craving for bling and the unspoken desire to every once-in-a-while be the centre of attention.  In part it comes from their lampooning of the psychoanalytic exchange in a looping narrative about attachment and dependency, and also their very deliberate resistance to the specular gaze of soft porn by ironically and absurdly directing attention to particular contemporary grooming norms .  But mostly it comes from the sheer goodwill towards the world which saturates their dancing, and their delight in teasing out the audience applause.

Surrounded by dangling art deco era fringed lampshades raised and lowered by tasselled cords, they dance to a soundscore by James Risbey, a collage of repeating sections which include industrial grunge, chichi 1960s department store muzak, and Berlin’s big hit Take My Breath Away.  The contrasts in the soundscore are echoed in the styling of the dancing, shifting from solo vogueing to almost aggressively paced unison floor-based sequences, gentle partner work, and referential everyday movement, all performed with conviction and aplomb.

There’s an associated series of costume changes, some in full view, others in silhouette behind a series of drop-down boudoir curtains which alternately hint at glamour and red-light district poverty. Holding on too long to one’s golden moments is resolved by encasing treasured objects in protective bubbles created on the spot, and gold lame is topped by tasselled epaulettes for some memorable cheerleader prancing.

Two saturated-in-sequins garments designed by Fraser Mildon glint mysteriously as the dancers animate them, glittery body powder twinkles, golden hails of glitter are poured and blown by turbo-strength industrial fans, and golden lace-up short gumboots get their own moment to shine in floor-level lighting. As promised, it delivers glitter, glam, and genuine friendship.

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