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Review: Superposition, STUN

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Image: Tamsin Drury

Superposition by Chanje Kunda

STUN, Manchester

“The great thing about lap dancing is it’s universal, you can do it anywhere”

Take a seat in a smoky night club. Await your performer. You paid for her time, after all. But, before all of that, you need some etiquette lessons in the art of erotic dance.

Superposition is a funny, honest, frank and hopeful look at the questions that surround the universe, through the juxtaposed lens of lap dancing and quantum physics. Chanje Kunda has successfully taken two concepts that you wouldn’t normally find in the same sentence and flawlessly merged them into a dialogue around bodies, ethics and being. We are invited to attend a sequence of lessons that are erotic dancing’s answer to Summer Magic’s ‘Femininity’ We watch Chanje put on a pair of the most glorious ‘stripper shoes’ and then join her in a guided demonstration of walking, winking, floor fuckery and how to captivate your paying ‘guest’ through dance. These lessons describe the art in a crisp and focused manner yet, the demonstration is wholeheartedly funny and relateable. Watching Chanje wobble in her sky high heels and try to deliver these poses with elegance reminds us of the awkwardness we’ve all felt when trying to learn to walk in heels and how to do ‘sexy’ in the way that society expects us to.

In between lessons, Chanje recounts encounters as a visitor to lap dancing clubs and how mesmirising it is to watch someone dance. These re-tellings are poetic in nature and allow us to journey back with Chanje and visualise the setting. Beautifully complimented by sharp yet subtle physicality, Superposition is an honest and in depth look at how we think and react to bodies and the spaces they reside in.

There is something quite beautiful about how real and truthful this piece is. As Chanje shares her own experience of lap dancing lessons, we are all reminded that our internal dialogues in group settings are incredibly valid and often very funny. When she describes how they all undressed in front of each other and she was left completely baffled by the differences in pubic hair between herself and her white counterparts, we cannot help but laugh at the bluntness of this thought being verbalised. Given that the media likes nothing more than to peddle the myth that body hair is wrong and that you’re either hairless or a super hairy feminist, it was nice to hear this unfiltered unpacking of how much of what we’ve been told is nonsense and the reality that the only real shared characteristic of bodies is purely that they are bodies. And, it is their variation that makes them truly beautiful.

Superposition is an invitation to a self assessment and a learning curve that you invested in. Chanje steps out of her meeting with her fellow lap dancing students and provokes us: “I let you watch me because you paid… I wonder what you think of my body”. And in this statement, we are forced to consider the politics of ownership, trade and, the commodification and policing that surrounds bodies but, more specifically black women’s bodies. In our journey down the rabbit hole, Chanje has created a space in which she challenges perceptions of black bodies and expresses the strength and beauty they possess. She looks into the hypersexualisation yet simultaneous ‘ugly’ stereotypes that surround black bodies and through the use of physics, explains black excellence. This is a piece of theatre that every black woman needs to see. It is uplifting and a concrete reminder that we are allowed to be apologetically black and that we are as beautiful as the universe itself because we are part of it.  It is in her declaration of wants “I want to display/dance/exhibit/own my black body” that she shows the defiance, honesty and self love that every black woman deserves to have in their life.

As this performance was a work in progress, the depth of and attention to big and somewhat taboo topics was commendable and I cannot wait to see the completed show when it premiers in October 2017.

Verdict: Superposition is the empowering evening that every black woman deserves. We are invited to contemplate time, loneliness, beauty and strength – all through a dialogue that would make a great mindfulness album. A cathartic, funny and brutally honest show about bodies, particles and the universe. Stunning!

 

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