7 Pleasures reminded me of some special experiences, often with intimate partners, those times when we have nothing to do, no commitments, when the weather is warm and we have the house to ourselves and we can spend hours naked playing. The extra space and time takes the pressure off us having sex, and rather than athletically pursuing the same isolated and intense spikes of pleasure, we become body-explorers.

We seek out new frontiers of sensory stimulation. We remember that there is not just one kind of touch, but a full spectrum, from feathery tickles to a deep massage. That on our skin and inside us we can feel hot and cold and everything in between, we can lose our balance and have a rush of blood to the head, we can breathe deeply or venture to the edge of asphyxiation. It can start to feel like a dance, albeit one where the spectator (if there is one, or more) is at very close proximity, perhaps even the very closest proximity we can experience as humans. The dance occurs at these moments when you gain a sudden sense of perspective, looking at this body and thinking, how absurd, unexpected and spectacular!

This moment is where the poetics of 7 Pleasures begin. The choreography occupies that remarkable space wherein a scene is both utterly alien, surreal and even perverse, and yet as people with bodies, with senses, we understand it at a deep level. Perhaps it is clothing that makes us forget all of the things our body can give and receive. We encounter clothed people every day and even see each other as being essentially clothed, but this is of course a false perception that a nude dance work might seek to remedy.

I believe this false perception has real consequences. One might be the overstatement of gender, style or class as defining categories of our experience. Nudity can be homogenising in this way. Yet it also reveals the multidimensional diversity of experiences, the different shapes that bodies can take, and not only in relation to our sexual characteristics, but our fat and muscle and skin and bones and nerves and blood vessels. This diversity was not so present in the work, which is simply a missed opportunity.

The dancers enter the work as audience members before taking their clothes off in the stalls. This is so much fun. The work is long but doesn’t feel like it. Things take their time, which takes the pressure off. The stage is a clean Scandinavian living room, which is slowly upended into gorgeous messy chaos. The bodies communicate like a flock. We are watching not a dance for bodies but the energy in between them. It begins as slime and slowly ramps up to a quivering intensity. It spends a long time in a gentle haze. Towards the end, it fractures. Some wear clothing, and this is violence. But this evaporates too and wild flocking pleasure is discovered again.

It is an orgy seen through the eyes of an artist. To leave space for the body to be free, the choreography is more spiritual and action oriented, rather than depending on particular codified movements. Some images are also very beautiful and seem crafted. In this way the work is like theatre, but in truth neither dance nor theatre are quite accurate. The performance manifests mostly out of the playfulness, curiosity and excitement of the dancers’ bodies. There is some outside crafting and designing, done deftly, but the shared dance/sexual practice is central. What a revolt against showy artistry and pretentious posturing! This work is very exciting and a brave and excellent choice for Melbourne Festival.

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