Knitting While Sleeping

February 26, 2016 | Brooke Matherly
Art Murmurs

As an audience member walking into Knitting While Sleeping, you are faced with an important choice. Do you join in, or do you spectate? Joining in means being immersed in the dance experience. It’s certainly an exciting option not often offered to dance audiences. Choosing to participate brings you close to the dancers who will interact with you regularly as you become a part of the performance. However, it is difficult from the ground to see the piece as it occurs. By choosing this option you will miss out on parts of the show as you cannot initially stand up. This is also not the right choice for allergy sufferers as you will be coated in feathers. But after you’ve made a choice on the experience that best suits you, from a pure spectator or active participant perspective, you’ll be immersed and caught up in a beautiful world of peaceful chaos.

The choreography style draws heavily on the works of Pina Bausch. Bausch is known for her complex settings and for giving her dancers a sense of autonomy whilst encouraging them to lose control. Large parts of her Café Muller piece required the dancers to close their eyes and perform the choreography through a set of chairs and tables. Her show Rite of Spring had the dancers moving through a stage full of dirt. Understanding this influence in the piece helps to see how excellently incorporated Bausch’s influence was in Knitting While Sleeping.

Throughout the piece dancers alternately swirl and writhe through a dreamscape of delicate feathers. The feathers highlight every move. They create flurries of floating movement and show big, swirling patterns on the floor as the dancers push and slide through them. Despite the delicate feathers, the movement itself is rarely light. The dancers struggle and jerk through the space with energy. It draws a fine line between moving with purpose and losing control. As an audience member on the floor, I felt nurtured by the dancers. They didn’t fight the audience at all. If someone laughed, they joined. We were never silenced, never threatened, just led through the experience perfectly capable of responding in our own ways. It’s sometimes hard to feel comfortable as an audience member onstage when there’s also an audience watching you. Knitting While Sleeping walked a comfortable line of moments of interaction and moments of allowing us to quietly spectate.

This is the show for anyone who’s been too nervous to go to see modern dance. It offers a variety of audience experiences all of which give you a fascinating look at an emotional, impressively physical world. Knitting While Sleeping is on at BATS Theater from now until the 27th of February.

KNitting while sleeping


February 24, 2016
Wellington Reviews

The Fringe Festival tends to offer some weird options which turn out to be either awful or awesome. Knitting While Sleeping is of the latter variety. Warning: contains audience participation. I was anxious before the show started. I hate audience participation. Please, please, don't pick me. They didn't. Then I was anxious for the people on stage ‐ would the dancers step on them? It seemed a little like you and your friends got drunk and decided to dance, while having a pillow fight. Except that, unlike you and your friends, they can dance, in unison. Feathers fell like snow. Dancers birthed from each other then intertwined like jealous lovers. Finally the pressure is too much and one dancer has a complete mental breakdown on stage. There is also a chicken. From anxiety to hysterics of laughter to thoughts of "what the hell will they do next?" this performance piece takes you through everything. It's only got a short season so go see it while you can.