We are in a small room where one can breathe an air of intimacy. In here, a private dance becomes a private confession. A dancer who lets out her inhibitions for a living smiles, as her body undulates and extends in seductive motions. She has our full attention. “Do I sense judgement?” she says with a hint of rage, as she addresses us for the first time. “It's OK, I've felt it before.”
Whether we're feminists, frequent strip club visitors, for or against strip-dancing, So What if I Dance? will question our initial stance on the matter.
Charismatic actor Chipo Kureya is the main and only character. She embodies not one dancer but many, giving us a unique chance to listen to the hard and sometimes comical truth about being a strip dancer. The play combines facts (often fictitious, but managing the same effect) with the dancer's impressions on her profession and that of her fellow colleagues. But humour is always there to keep the monologue from becoming too serious: “Did you know 87% of cheerleaders are strip dancers?” she says with an ironic laugh.
The script, written by Fringe veteran David Kingsmill, is an outright triumph. It touches on a topic always frowned upon, and delicately tears down the layers that reveal the truth behind the women at the centre of it all: students who can finance their studies only through this profession, timid women who found their inner strength here, and those who simply have a passion for dancing: any kind of dancing. The script succeeds thanks to its construction process. Kingsmill approached real strip dancers to get answers to the questions that many refuse to ask.
On the other hand, the performance has the perfect woman for the role. Kureya's acting is mesmerizing from beginning to end. She personifies a dancer that is blunt, bold and inquisitive. Her lines make us laugh or discreetly touch on our hidden prejudices. Her constant interaction with the audience adds to the realism of the story, as she masterfully takes advantage of the people in the room to improvise some dialogues.
This combination of a tremendous script and an extremely talented actress results in a play that brings reflection as much as entertainment. Whether we're feminists, frequent strip club visitors, for or against strip-dancing, So What if I Dance? will question our initial stance on the matter.