Fusing choreography, theatricality, and sculptural materials, thaw is a solo dance work in development about a continually emerging identity expressed through physically detailed character play. We witness the performer slipping through her multiple “selves”, ranging from the everyday to the fantastical.
A plastic drop sheet becomes an amniotic sac, a mask, a grave, and an object of the performer’s romantic love. Pieces of gold fabric become portals to alternate universes in which physical laws and power structures are unpredictable. Ultimately, thaw is an allowance for an amorphous, queer identity to play itself out, with both external and internal forces initiating transformation.
thaw premiered at the Fluid Festival (Calgary) in October 2019 and was recently presented with New Works Performance (Vancouver) in January 2020.
ZAHRA SHAHAB is an emerging dance artist based in Vancouver. With a childhood in Islam, a youth in Christianity, an early adulthood cracked open by feminist/queer theory and cradled by Sufi curiosity, her work investigates spirituality, identity, and death. She is interested in the continual process of how identities are constructed, alongside the freedom to dismantle them the moment they begin to crystalize. Her work seeks to illustrate the myriad of characters we employ to adapt to the world — both as tools for survival and as portals of expansion into ways of being and thinking that are beyond our culture’s normative script.
Photos by Yvonne Chew
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