The Lowry, Manchester – until 28 October 2017
Guest Reviewer: Elise Gallagher
Spoken word, science and strip clubs combine to create Chanje Kunda’s one-woman cabaret show exploring the laws of attraction and the meaning of life. Manchester poet, playwright and performance artist Chanje Kunda presents Superposition at the Lowry Theatre. Kunda took lessons in several disciplines of dance in the lead up to her show. Two are pole and lap dancing, which are commonly performed in certain venues for a particular clientele, but Kunda sets out to reinvent this.
“As a woman, I wanted to find out about the laws of attraction. I wanted to know how the universe works and about my place in the universe. So, I decided to ask these questions to a philosopher, to a physicist and to my son.”
Superposition is a frank, hopeful yet honest look at the questions that surround the universe, juxtaposed through the lens of lap dancing and quantum physics.
During one scene Kunda illustrates the similarities between the properties of particles and the routines of a nightclub. She explains that if the atom was a nightclub, “the nucleus would be dancing in the middle of the nightclub” whilst the electron would be orbiting the nucleus “getting to see the sexiness from all angles”. She explains this all whilst pole dancing, I must add.
The prospect of a show marrying poetry, pole dancing and particle physics to perform on stage is a daunting prospect, and it had the potential to go very wrong. However, it didn’t. The narrative pivoted between Kunda’s lessons in erotic dancing (including “floor fuckery”), the body positivity reflections against the backdrop of her life. And all seamlessly fused together in a dialogue of dance fusion, philosophy and music.
At one point Kunda empathises with a cat on heat and discusses the many questions life has to offer with her curious son. She then puts on the most glorious pair of ‘stripper shoes’ which she at first wobbles, unbalanced, in – but a short time later she is working the pole, transfixing the audience.
At the end of the rabbit hole that Kunda has sent us down she studies her audience and says, “I’m letting you watch me because you paid,” and in that moment we are forced to think about the politics and conflict of ownership, the policing and imposed restrictions of bodies and more importantly, the politics of black women’s bodies. When asking to pick out a lap dancer, Kunda looks for one with a “badonk-donk bum”, only there were none; instead, the lap dancer had breasts that even gravitational force couldn’t pull down. In the body confidence workshop she attended, where they were all asked to undress, and she was the only black female, she was staggered to see that their pubic hair was like down or fur rather than the texture of her own.
I imagine, it goes without saying, that this kind of show is an acquired taste. However, behind the poetry, the pole, and the heels there is a rawness which laces between the words and the movement and transcends boundaries.
The show circles around and around, looping upon itself – but it isn’t repetitive. My only qualm with the performance as a whole was that sometimes Kunda was overshadowed by the volume of the music.
In an age where women’s eroticism is often portrayed quite cheaply, Kunda searches for a new way to elevate and celebrate it – through the disciplines of science, spirituality and sensuality. The hour passed very quickly.