Peggy Sue Dunigan

The Bra Project

By - Jan 26th, 2009 02:52 pm
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Over 500 bras complement the weekend production of Danceworks Performance Company’s The Bra Project, which incorporates an A to Z litany of names for the feature of the female anatomy that fills this garment, including the word “Carambas.” As an important but politically and sexually charged garment, the bra provides one clear definition of femininity. From the time a small girl searches her mother’s dresser drawers, to the teenage impatience for “developing,” to the possibility a doctor will deliver a diagnosis of breast cancer, the bra expresses womanhood¾ whether underwire, padded, strapless, longline, nursing, sports, wonder, smooth, lacy, décolleté, uplifting, or corseted.

That said, The Bra Project traverses this precarious fashion and emotional history with grace, humor and sensitivity through a combination of movement, music, and poetry. Artistic Director Dani Kuepper, who recently returned, along with the DPC Choreographer Kelly Anderson have produced an evening dressed in ample lingerie accompanied by provocative ideas for contemplation while enjoying the enchanting performances of the dancers. Guest choreographer Elizabeth Johnson adds a flourish with a special number that sardonically suggests she’s “a carpenter’s delight, straight as a board and easy to nail.”

This leads to the DPC wistfully cavorting in “Bee Sting and Mosquito Bites,” where each performer tries to stuff their bra with balloons, Kleenex and even socks to enhance their budding endowment. Speaking to a darker sexual side, Christal Wagner dances in lovely black underwear through “A Black Lace Bra Kind of Woman.”For a flirtatious peek from the male point of view, six company members of both genders pick apples from a tree constructed of bras in “Apples: Orgins of a Striptease,” which seductively concerns those tempting “ripe apples.”

Two exceptionally poignant numbers use both humor and truth. “Jugs” presents a trio of mothers dancing to Love Potion Number Nine, a symbolic juxtaposition of breasts, defined maternally and sexually, and still controversial in 2009. While Victoria’s Secret may flaunt sheer underwear in their public windows, natural infant feeding repulses others. For the finale, “The Pink Piece” tackles the issue of breast cancer, statistically a terrifying threat to women of any age. Everyone probably recalls a woman, including someone dear, struck with this disease, perhaps even lost prematurely.

Danceworks’ new project related more than mere art for the women in the audience. As a member of this sex, the concepts behind the dance transcended the evening completely, combining the two purposes seamlessly. A man may have viewed this production, just as they do Victoria Secret catalogues, through entirely different eyes. Seeing it similarly would be an exceptional feat. Unless a man has ever breastfed a baby, tried to find proper underwear to fit a dress, suffered with a broken underwire or strap, been exposed to a mammogram, or snapped on this clothing almost everyday since becoming a teen how could this performance possibly call to mind the same visions? Yet from either a man’s or woman’s perspective, showing too little or too much, wearing a 32 A or a 38 C Carambas! What a captivating evening!

Danceworks Performance Company presents The Bra Project through February 1. Call 414.277.8440 for tickets. Their next production is A Guy Thing, which runs March 6, 7 and 8.

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