The Tender 2019
performance, decal, ramp, linoleum flooring, rope, 90 minutes
Performers: Amrita Hepi, Ivey Wawn, Rhiannon Newton, Zachary Lopez Set Design: Jimmy Sing & Amrita Hepi
Sound design: Daniel Jenatsch
Rope is an agent of violence but also a device that binds and connects. As a metaphor it has mixed meaning. It can signify resistance or restraint, it can whip or tie together. Amrita Hepi understands rope in all its complexity, specially as it pertains to the history (and symbology) of racial oppression. In her performance work The Tender rope isn’t just a prop, it is a performer. Rope performs with and alongside the dancers; it rhythmically thwacks the floor and cuts the air. When the dancers move, the rope dances too. Ropes of different lengths, colours and materials are subbed in and out over the course of the 90 minute performance. Each has its own role; its own rhythm, modulated to each act of the choreographic sequence.
The Tender cycles through successive studies of dissonant rhythm. A body jolts before it undulates. Flow shifts into an angular or syncopated movement. Across each act, particular gestures are distilled and dramatised through repetition; a buck, a skip, an embrace, a release. These actions seem antithetical and yet in Hepi’s choreography they bleed into one another. Gesture is never singular and action is continuous, like a skipping rope as it rises and falls, hitting the floor with force before surging again.