Toujours de ¾ face!

Loraine Dambermont

It’s not violence, it’s comic-book violence. That is: for fun. Loraine Dambermont takes her cue from YouTuber Johnny Cadillac, an ageing rockstar lookey-likey whose karate video went viral (in Belgium). The soundtrack intercuts his puffed-up stories about getting in fights, getting in jail, getting out of jail to get in fights again, with biff-baff-bosh vocalisations. It all gets transcoded into Dambermont’s body, the irregular speech rhythms and plosive consonants adding impact to her punches, kicks, jabs and flinches. The disjointed, stop-motion effect is as impressive as it is entertaining.

At the centre of the piece there’s an interlude with Dambermont in a box of light, facing us directly rather than at the more defensive three-quarter angle that Cadillac recommends. Is it a moment of vulnerability, or revelation? If so, it’s passed lightly by, and the choreography returns to entertainment more than insight; a missed opportunity, I felt.

Sanjoy Roy

A man’s voice in the background, speaking French, begins a monologue about his karate skills and how he has applied them in many different situations. English subtitles are projected on the wall and according to him, the ‘¾ face’ is the most effective defensive stance.

On stage, Loraine Dambermont embodies this man’s character and brings his narrative to life. Dressed in dark shorts and a sweater, barefoot and wearing sunglasses, she embarks on a journey of endless punches and kicks while lip-syncing at flashy moments. The voice in the background eventually becomes part of the music beat and the elbow and knee-strikes become more intense. There is a square-shaped spotlight on the ground and the movement reaches a point where karate fades from her body to make way for a more melodic feel.

The gratuitous violence in the narration can be quite uncomfortable, yet through Dambermont’s engaging performance, Toujours de ¾ face! becomes an unpretentiously naive and playful piece.

Maria Palma Teixeira

Opening with an audio clip in French, we hear a masculine voice discuss their will to be violent. The stage is set for something intense. Enter Loraine Dambermont to disarm us, in visible ridicule of our threatening narrator. In sunglasses and sports clothes, Dambermont appears mock-ready to fight us, but know we are in on the joke.

We hear tips on standing semi-profile, ¾ face, as a fighting tactic, and this provides the curious base for this choreographic output. A scattered array of physical taunts, aggressive body postures and hyper-characterised -big-butch-energy are welded together with text, creating a conflation of two characters: the protagonist and the narrator.

Struggling to transcend its initial set up, the work offers a singular idea and while its intentions seem misty, the performance is clearly demanding and performed with conviction.

Declan Whitaker