Edinburgh Fringe 2023
When we think of death, especially when losing someone close to us, it’s sometimes difficult to see the jubilation; or to simply capture the happier memories, even when this is part of the accepted process when mourning. Solène Weinachter does not hold back her emotions, seeking to pose questions to her audience about the protocols, traditions and rituals embedded deep within us; if we’re to attend a loved ones funeral. The death of her uncle Bob opens up a further discussion. What do we grow in life? What do we want or simply hope to leave behind? Without giving any of the answers to these questions, let’s enjoy a celebration of life, the young girl who was and still is the eccentric one in the family – the life of Solène Weinachter, a professional dancer who has been pirouetting since the age of 5! Her boundless skill and flair for story-telling is not to be missed!
Remaining Shows: 23rd – 27th August
Venue: Assembly @ Dance Base
Weinachter is a truly extraordinary performer; which is evident throughout this piece through intricate dance, mime, and comedy – the fluidity of this performance has you laughing in hysterics one instance, to then pausing for thought the next. Relevant questions: What seeds do we leave behind after death? Will our memory continue to grow through our children and their children? And of course, we may not have any children – So what then? Weinachter’s art as a storytelling is both absurd and highly imaginative – many twists and turns from a goat impersonation to a sequence of impulsive reactive movements to the imagined arrival of her mother, were just joyous – Weinachter’s innovation knows no boundaries and I thoroughly enjoyed the juxtaposition between melancholic content which was embraced with humour through contemporary dance. Weinachter’s physical comedy is embedded within her body, using total theatre to completely transform us into her world, the dancer who has a beautiful zest for life. Weinachter is the Captain of her own ship – a unique visionary, artist and dancer.
One mic, and a few integral props allow Weainachter to explore different ideas that would make her loved ones cry – picture the scene. . .Family? Yes. Friends? Yes? Lovers? Absolutely yes (in their droves). Fans? Yes! The audience soon become a physical representation of who Weinachter would expect to see at her Funeral – Navigating with ease, that we should almost plan this with her, the music, the flowers; what would be her choices for this momentous day? With a brief suggestion from her audience, she continues to transform into the physical representation of different flowers, moving with elegant extensions of poised motifs that expressed the vibrancy and slight movement of each flower. Each suggestion was performed with alacrity and elegance.
What initially felt like a transitional phase of ideas, a small projected film allowed us to take pause for a second, see the seasons pass and watch the children grow – Weainachter laughs initially about the meaning of this interlude, whilst laying as a pretend corpse throughout, however what soon transpires is her questions about life, legacy and heritage. This moment was extremely powerful and relatable, as so many of us ask these questions on a regular basis, looking for meaning in ‘what comes next’ and ‘what do we leave behind?’
When heading to the climatic end of this piece, the audience are forced to experience an elongated period of crying – starting as a satirical representation of grief, we accept the humour in this, however, the crying evolves to become more raw – a bellowing of pain in an uncomfortable silence. I felt her pain, that uncontrollable grief, what seemed endless but has to be expressed in this way. This moment was brave – here, we were able to marvel in Weainachter’s words to express her grief for her Grandma. Prior to this, dance was her tool to express herself (which she did beautifully), but within this moment you’re captivated by each poetic placement of every word as she cradles herself within a fetal position whilst speaking into one mic. This monologue becomes a truthful rendition of the last few moments of losing someone special, in this instance her Grandmother. The writing here is believable beyond measure and still clear in my mind as she describes so vividly the spiritual essence of her Grandmother, becoming corporal – the ‘empty vessel.’ Simply stunning – not one pin dropped!
Weinachter’s kinaesthetic representation of death is up-beat, hysterical and juxtaposes what we would expect to experience at someone’s funeral. This is beautifully executed – A must see!