S/He Is Nancy Joe

S/He is Nancy Joe is more than just an exuberant dance performance. At times this expressive and emotionally engaging piece feels like a real life graphic novel contained within an art installation. Comic Book illustrations are projected onto two wide screens that are towards the back of the stage; these illustrations are animated and give a playful and thoroughly compelling backdrop to the physical performance, solely and enthusiastically displayed by Mirenka Cechova.

The themes and story behind S/He is Nancy Joe relate to gender and the individual desire for a human being to live their life the way they want. The struggles within this predicament are conveyed through passionate and intense physicality that is dispelled with bursts of energy from the clearly talented and intense performer.

The performance was at its best when Cechova interacted with the backdrop. Illustrated spotlights peered down at the innocent protagonist and accused him/her of the "crime" of changing sex. Mirenka Cechova moved around the stage in an urgent struggle but the spotlights persisted and she could not escape their accusing gaze. This combination of physical movement and motion graphics took S/He is Nancy Joe beyond dance and physical theatre and into the realm of performance art and raw emotional storytelling.

This piece is part of the Czech Dance Showcase at the Zoo venues. The story is universal and could relate to anyone, male or female, regardless of their location. Although this is a solo performance the collaboration between the illustrator (Miloš Mazal) and animator (Tomsa Legiersky) made S/He is Nancy Joe feel all the more poignant, as we were taken to a graphically illustrated world that reflected our own. The performance asked questions of personal freedom and communicated it through artistic freedom, making this production a meaningful, important and vivid blend of physical theatre and multimedia storytelling that was thoughtful, dark and skillfully articulated.

Reviews by Steven Fraser

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The Blurb

'I was born a girl but I know it’s a mistake'. Docu-dance, street-ballet, comics, grafitti, transgender. Acclaimed The Best of Contemporary Dance 2012 by The Washington Post. Sarah Kaufman: 'a battleground of self-identity and social censure'.