To be Glorified (2013)

by Raewyn Whyte

A new hour-long solo work from Zahra Killeen-Chance premiered at The Basement Studio early in October, making excellent use of the intimate space to develop a warm and empathetic relationship with its audience.  Word spread quickly after opening night, resulting in a sold-out season and calls for a return season ASAP.

To be Glorified was a seductive foray into relational aesthetics which resulted in around 30% of the performance material being provided by the audience. Invitations to “share this moment” were distributed throughout the work, with activities increasing in intensity and participation level over the course of the work. The first invitation was to accept and consume a chewy mint spooned into our hands as we entered the performance space, and to “take a moment to clear your mind of what has happened in the course of the day”. Subsequent examples include a gestural sequence which we learned and performed while seated, and tucked away in our memories “for use at times when protection is needed”; a declarative giving up of some item or quality “in order to enter The Profession”, collective read-along enunciations of hymn-like mantras about “being in The Profession”, and finally, the invitation to “let yourself go” and join Killeen-Chance on the dance floor for the closing minutes, which most chose to do.

A series of video sequences was interspersed through the work, ranging from darkly atmospheric building interiors which imply some ecclesiastical purpose, to a twenty-something man intensely dancing street-style, and a series of short interviews with local performance artists about their commitment to “The Profession”, what they believe, and why they perform as they do. In parallel, questions were posed to the audience, for example about the choices we believe are available to us in our lives and the factors which we see as holding us back from certain options.

While immersed in the performance, enhanced and intensified by sonic contributions from Samin Son and atmospheric lighting by Amber Molloy, it was not so easy to see how the performance echoed the way members are introduced to a new cult or social movement. However, in the post-performance buzz, that realisation was quick to emerge. There was also much discussion about the ways in which the rituals of performance make “glorification” a collective process in which the performer comes to be “exalted” and the audience get to share in the glory.

Zahra Killeen-Chance
To Be Glorified

Auckland, Basement Theatre
3 October 2013
Photo supplied: Zahra Killeen-Chance in To be Glorified.
© Solomon Mortimer.

This review originally appeared on Dance Tabs

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