Womanewer by Laura Kenyon | Review

Words by Maxine Flasher-Duzgunes. Performed at Academy Mews Dance Studio.

The danger is everywhere…walking home alone at night…I could easily be overpowered…

In the quaint lamplit space of what could easily have been an emptied apartment, in the presence of a few friends and an intimate zoom room, danced a trio of women from disparate places but with bodies from one and the same.

A loft space of dance was the key to escaping the brisk evening in northwest London. There on the top floor of Academy Mews Dance Studio, Laura Kenyon presented her work-in-progress, Womanewer, which emerged out of her year-long residency with dancers Sara Maurizi and Vivian Luk and visual artist Melanie Kenyon on the topic of renewing the female form amid the history of violence it has endured. 

Resilience comes from a place of pain…

The trio walked forward to Loretto Martinez Troncoso’s audio monologue, their woven stories finally resounding out of hiding. Until Vivian tore through the settled space of her draping linen garments, the trio stood motionless to the narrative backdrop that at last could resound, unencumbered. 

Saying no to people…creating boundaries all the time…

The barrier of silence broke with the whipping of their clothes and hair, breathy yet bound, their gestures wound up yet wild. In unison, they became dizzying wave forms, intersecting at odd angles and then floating perfectly parallel.

Image credit: Sofia Nasif.

Picture the motion of a penny down a metal whirlpool, its circles endlessly diminishing. Picture the sound of a poker chip being dropped, its edges in sustained collapse. In a Sufi-like dance, the trio became a rogue carousel of dervishes, occasionally breaking their spins to point upwards…to a place of grief or a place of solace, or perhaps to the colliding point between them. 

All I did was cry…movement is the only way to release myself…

Their symphonic breathwork unfolded like miniature tornadoes over miles of prairieland; it was a process about accessing memory and then releasing it. Swathed back into union phrase-work, their facings would rapidly change like bodies demanding to be seen through multiple mirrors. 

Upon each shift upstage and down, they seemed to be cracking the surface of an impenetrable pond covered by ice. Then watching them let go was like witnessing an expired echo, an invisible dance yet still somehow held in my ears. 

Kenyon spoke about this project creating little lights in the heads of women all over the world, empowering the harmed and shaping once mute spaces. Her residency process involved open workshops in both London and Marseille, and digitally invited in women applicants all the way from Uganda, Puerto Rico and Italy, where a series of creative tasks became a sort of handbook for liberating the body and a physical “deck of cards” in which her mother, Melanie designed. Shared in what felt like a dance family’s living room, her work already touches the unseen and makes seen the unheard. And it touched me…before of course considering when, how (and unfortunately, if) I would arrive home that night…

Credits: Artistic Director: Laura Kenyon, Dancers: Sara Maurizi, Vivian Luk, Laura Kenyon
Photographer: Sophia Nasif