Tackling the meat industry is a hard one because there are so many facets. We follow the life of creatures bred to be consumed as the four dancers begin on the plastic stage in red slips. I wish the opening night costume malfunction of a broken strap had given one of the dancers more confidence to display her body – breasts are not inherently sexual, remember? – rather than drawing attention to it by constantly pulling her slip up, especially as later Bella Wilson would be in a tight, nude-coloured leotard for the rest of the performance.
The clearest part of the dance is when the music was intercut with instructions on how to carve up a creature to create a tasty brisket. Every movement was precise. You could watch any one of the dancers at any time, they were all doing something incredibly interesting. The movement was repetitive with slight variants, reminding us the cyclical nature of the meat works and indeed the entire industry, and therefore a reflection on our consumption. Again, here there was unity amongst all the production elements to make it the climax of the dance.
Dance’s strength lies in movement and precise sound. The ending, with Jaz Yahel breathing into the suspended microphone was chilling, but then she told us to “Give thanks”, to the various industries. This felt like they were driving their message home too much, thus revealing an insecurity of the performance itself.
The ending calls us back to the micro. The final image of the show is of Bella curled in a petri dish as meat molecules are formed and projected onto her body, ending in a recognisable muscle tissue. What is the difference between the meat we consume and the meat we own (our bodies)? Why are some meats (us) more precious than others? MEAT reminds us that change starts from within.
A beautiful piece of body endurance. I appreciate the meat that is on these dancer’s bones in a non-cannibalistic manner. I am interested in what issue the Dance Plant Collective will tackle next.
It will be MEAT's last night at BATS on Saturday 13th. Get your tickets here so as to not miss this show.