A Critique of Australia’s Strange Fruit

We don’t normally share fan mail on our blog, but we received such an interesting email that we couldn’t help but share the following poem and critique of Australia’s Strange Fruit.

This fascinating piece of literature was written by MaryJo O’Connor, an Eastwood Collegiate Grade 9 student in the Integrated Arts Program.

Australia’s Strange Fruit Critique
Connection at Height; Movement creating emotions
by MaryJo O’Connor

I came up with the idea of naming my poem reflecting Strange Fruit’s performance Controlled yet Free because while I was watching I kept on thinking about the mere fact that a story was being told through movement on the very top of long, skinny poles. Those poles could control a lot of what could have been done on the ground in choreography, yet the performers were free to do other things to express to others through movement up on the poles. This connects to work that can be done as a dancer in other styles. In ballet, your pointe shoes may control what can be done, but you are free to let your heart speak, and for your body to explore other movement pathways. The same is with a song. A song’s timing or sound may control what can be done, yet you are free as an artist to take that music and explore other creative pathways to discover something new as a dancer, artist, and performer.

In dance, you can be controlled by the norm, yet also free by discovering new ways of seeing things and doing things. This is what strange fruit showed me.

Some of the movements used, I could recognize technically, such as backbends, arm diagonals, pirouettes, and posture, yet they were used in unique ways, that reflected joy, happiness, beauty, rage, e.t.c. The body language was extremely professional. I could tell that the performers cared about what they were doing. The lighting in the night performance helped highlight the character and the emotions shown throughout the performance, and helped me see how each character was connected in some way. The genre included some acrobatics, but also used the fundamentals of other dance techniques such as ballet, modern. contemporary, e.t.c. Strong movement and line was used, along with some comical acting, to add humor. The performer’s energy changed focus with each song. At one moment of music, the movements and emotions brought a happy and joyful carefree energy, while at another moment, more serious, and powerful energy was brought. This connected to life and how it can bring you many different situations and kinds of people that carry different kinds of energy to life. Colour was used to draw your attention to the performers that interact with each other the most.

The following is a poem that highlighted my experience and what I learned watching Strange Fruit’s performance at Center in the square, where the performers performed at a height standing on long poles that moved back and forth, using movement,colour, sound, projection, and shape to create a story and beauty.

Controlled Yet Free
They stand proud and radiate confidence;attached to a straight line;
where found at the top, there is more line and soul, ready to expand towards others.
Swinging back, and forth, each swing sets a new connection and emotion;
back arching to showcase love, and thought.
Each melody connects the the tips of the performers fingers,
creating line from one another, inspired by the beat.
They are controlled within their character, yet free amongst the space.
Each thought seemed to never end, floating from one performers limb to the other;
representing love, friendship, revenge, beauty, lightness, and darkness.
Making skills seem effortless, leaving the audience wondering how.
Strapped on a pole, yet expressing beyond the space set before them.
A simple swing left and right represented confrontation, or at some points, joy, and happiness,
controlling the storyline through movement, yet letting the story become free to interpret.
You could see a conversation without spoken words; through eye contact, arm and body line, power and rhythm.
The human soul is like an open sky, it can be controlled by those around you, but it has an aspect of freedom to act for yourself;
controlled,yet free.
This is the message expressed through movement.
The human body is like a star in that sky of the soul, it has the power to radiate light and understanding to fellow stars, and to move amongst the atmosphere in extraordinary ways;
the performers may have stood on ordinary poles, yet they created extraordinary messages and connections towards each other and the audience; using movement to spark emotion and character.
The performance and character did not end until the poles were left there alone;
for the human body and soul were what turned those ordinary poles to extraordinary;
it was the human body and soul that turned a song into a story book, where each chapter began at each new phrase of music.
An aspect of life at height;
what can be done on top of a pole may be controlled by some standards,yet the performers were free to bring dance lines and shapes, to turn the control into freedom;
to bring passion to peoples lives.
The poles were a root to a tree of awe-inspiring movement.

To conclude, Strange Fruit’s performance showed me dance in a unique form, and symbolism behind movement and emotion working with colour, light, sound, and connection between artists.