The performance of Wrestling with the WIP begins in the lobby of Brookland’s Dance Place: four women in quilted skirts in a blend of pantomime, precise movement, and frustrated shouts of, “I’m sick and I’m tired,” capture the attention of everyone in the room almost instantly — even those still in line at the box office (read: arrive early; the performance will start promptly at the marked time).
When the prologue ends, the audience is ushered into the theater, the eponymous dance place, lined with mirrors and curtains. Overhead, mobiles of shoes, Barbie dolls, and patches of that same quilted fabric catch the neon pink light from above. There’s an ominous feel to the simple set dressing that can never quite be forgotten — when the lights shift over the course of the performance, the mobiles catch each shift, and draw focus upwards to the constant pressures of womanhood literally hanging over your head.
Wrestling with the WIP
Choreography by Nicole Y. McClam
Details and tickets
As with all interpretive dance, the end result is just that: open for interpretation. The most memorable scene, for me, was the opening, where dance was woven together from those poses most often seen on magazine covers, call and response imitation game from one performer, like a search for identity, that spans most of the 25 minute performance.
It is at times heartbreaking, though I was not always clear exactly why. But seems to be the pure emotion, the clear grip of whatever is driving the dancers – their expressions, their bodies, their breath – that ultimately reaches out to the audience, and holds their attention.
For beautiful movement and dedicated precision, Wrestling with the WIP is for you, but prepare to watch with the eyes of a philosopher — nothing will be handed to you. Although, I suppose, that may be the point; it is, after all, called “wrestling”.