Berstad / Helgebostad / Wigdel
Existing on the darker side of ‘whatever’, bolshy ‘soilgirls’ Berstad/Helgebostad/Wigdel create a situation equally mundane, as it is not; where everything seems to happen on their terms. Lit entirely by handheld work lights, out of the gloom the unexpected, three greased back blonde women with cheek retractors dripping saliva. The impression isn’t even of gender politics but a channeling of how they feel and doing it. Their attitude as they stray across stage is something punk rock, both high octane and lazy as they shake, run and kill time to Philip Glass’s incredible Lightning. Interacting like pack animals this piece has the potential to unnerve the viewer but doesn’t. Yet without narrative, energetic arc or determinable reasoning, this trio appropriates the stage with their distinct atmosphere and strong visuals (which need to be seen live) and the effect is singular and beguiling. Why then, did they feel the need to bow, to be so conventional?
The audience enters an expansive auditorium, lights dimmed, to the hum of machinery. Three blinding lamps hover on stage, however, as the lamps begin to shift through space one realises the performance, Jordjenta, has already begun. Grouping together, the lamps are turned upwards revealing the upper bodies and faces of three female dancers – Kristin Helgebostad, Ida Wigdel and Ingeleiv Berstad from Norway – with matching polyester bomber jackets, limp blond hair and cheek retractors familiar to a dentist’s surgery. The striking play with props and technical elements which ensues sees them walk a fine line between interpretations of Shakespeare’s sinister Three Witches, (or perhaps incarnations of Aileen Wuornos,) and simply being hyperactive triplets who speak a language entirely their own. As the work progressed the dancers’ threatening presence became increasingly familiar, particularly after having exhausted their resources, and left me wishing they had pierced the fourth wall and taunted their viewers, even if just a little.
Out of context, it would be easy to think that these three women are the postmodern version of the witches of Macbeth. Everything is dark, disturbing and evil in Soilgirl. Ingeleiv Berstad, Kristin Helgebostad and Ida Wigdel are the Norwegian group who presented this visually amazing performance. It’s not easy to feel scared by dance but they manage it. Of course, it has clear references from the Hollywood terror films and they try to imitate its visual effects too, creating a weird atmosphere in a fantastic set that seems alive. Actually, stage, lighting and sound have the leading role in this high-tech show, where the dancers – and the dance – lost its essence. The bodies are another visual effect in this disconcerting work.