Tanya Khabarova / Derevo Company, Reflection

Review in Issue 12-1 | Spring 2000

A prominent member of Russian clown ensemble Derevo, Tanya Khabarova was last seen as the Valentinoesque suitor in the company’s macabre fairytale, Once. Now visiting London alone, Khabarova’s new solo show conjures a very different atmosphere. The piece is billed as a return to the elemental landscape of Derevo’s successful 1998 show, The Red Zone. As a performance in its own right, however, Reflection is a somewhat baffling melee of assorted images.

Appearing initially as a slight, androgynous figure, sporting a long, white nightgown, Khabarova performs ritualistic tasks with random items set out on a table; pausing to emit silent screams, then returning to the rituals seemingly unaffected by these emotional outbursts. The mood and images change rapidly and radically from this rather controlled beginning, as Khabarova proceeds to move, in turn fluidly, animalistically and frenetically, in the space. A variety of cultural influences from Butoh to African dance are evident, yet these diverse images seen together have little impact. As soon as one begins to develop a feeling or understanding for one of Khabarova’s silent expressions, she has already moved on to the next, leaving one bewildered.

The extended pause following Khabarova’s final exit thankfully allows a moment of calm for the overstimulated senses to absorb the performance. And yet, I still remain unsure as to whether there is any substantial emotional sense to be made of the piece.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Jan 2000

This article in the magazine

Issue 12-1
p. 22