La dernière danse de Brigitte at Skipton Puppetry Festival
Zero en Conducta is a relatively young Barcelona based company established in 2011. A truly international team, José Antonio Puchades (Barcelona) and Julieta Gascón Roque (Mexico) are expert at revealing creatures and worlds through movement alone: their previous show, Allegro ma non troppo, sees bodies blend into unearthly, beautiful beings and landscapes. With directional assistance from Italian puppeteer, Remo di Filippo, La dernière danse de Brigitte does not disappoint. A perfect fusion of corporeal mime, dance and puppetry guides us through Brigitte’s memories of a joyous youth.
The elderly Brigitte is a life-sized puppet whose wheelchair is danced and spun through the past by her younger self and former lover. She gazes on as the magnetic duo visibly sparkle in each others’ company. Polished, magically synchronised movements take us back to the roaring Twenties and the ever-smiling performers of the hand-cranked silent films. Occasionally the film gets stuck and the characters are jarred in their music box style movements. Old Brigitte rubs her head to persuade the memories to return and regularly presses her red cushion heart to keep it beating. No longer her elegant, younger self, she shakily applies an old lipstick that inspires a long forgotten memory, along with an astonishing solo mime performance by Gascón.
Their love of physicality reappears as the duos’ bodies swerve together to unveil child Brigitte. A collection of fingery limbs skips over knees and heads to a luminescent moon always slightly out of reach. A sweetly innocent contrast to her older selves, child Brigitte is vulnerable in a way that her elderly self can once again identify with. It’s bittersweet in its sadness and paves the way for the same inevitable end that we must all come to. Brigitte, however, reminds us that life will happen whether we choose to pay attention or not, so we may as well enjoy the magic and lipstick along the road.