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ME (Mobile/Evolution)
Published on Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Crutches scatter the floor of the Out of the Blue Drill Hall like broken and discarded limbs; Claire Cunningham enters, examines, and explains them, and turns them into something beautiful.

Possibility and perspective: that sums up two themes from Cunningham’s autobiographical double bill ME (Mobile/Evolution). The crutches that Cunningham has used are as personal to her as the scars on my body are to me; each has a history, a story. Having used crutches for over 14 years, they are not just parts of her body, but her friend; she takes them everywhere. Like the mobiles that inspired the first piece they are the key to a freer mobility, which she uses to great theatrical effect as she slowly builds her life experiences into art.

With a lifetime of walking first with callipers and then crutches, Cunningham highlights she has an intimate knowledge of surfaces. While Mobile is aerial, Evolution is more ground-based. It explores possible shapes, ways of moving and cheating gravity using crutches, while building to a gentle climax celebrating how dance has changed her life.

Cunningham has an engaging, honest presence. The second half isn’t as dramatic as the first; she could include a few more stories to build on the movement, but Evolution still ends on an endearing note as she dances with a fluid grace to Gene Kelly.

What I like is that this show moves me. With ME, my perspective has been reshaped: for the past couple of days I’ve seen people using crutches and have thought to myself: do you know you can use those as Claire Cunningham does? Few people may think to try of course, but ME has helped me see past the crutches, and into a world of possibilities beyond.

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