“Nowhere do you hear it’s ok to just be you” – Dancer Jessie Rochford-Barber reflects on the creation of GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS

Jessie in “GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS” (c) David Vagg [Tripelpunkt 2018]

Creating GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS was an experience unlike any I had ever had before.

I came in quite late to this shows’ process. One season of GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS had already been performed and I really had no idea of what I was getting myself into. I didn’t really know anyone in the company very well. All of a sudden I was handed a balloon, a pink tube and told to bring my own heels to rehearsal. Gritting my teeth, I had no choice but to jump in and do some weird stuff. Somehow it turned into this beautiful piece of crazy art.

Jessie working on her high heel push ups

Jessie working on her high heel push ups before going on stage.

I have been involved in many shows in the past but nothing like this. The other shows either had a direct narrative or were versions of things that had been done before. GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS is unique in the fact that there was never any specific model we had to follow…

Other than getting off our chests the crazy experience of being female.

The great thing about this show is that everyone interprets it differently. We have now performed it over five different seasons. All of us still find different meanings and intentions we can put behind the work.

One of the main realisations we all came to during this show was that the expectations placed on us girls are crazy ridiculous. How To Look Perfect In Photos is a piece that resonates way too closely with me. Everyday I feel like someone is screaming in my ear ”Suck your belly in, have bigger lips, wear more make up, work out harder, wake up earlier, spend more money on your hair!” We are constantly attacked by adverts (and the people who believe adverts) telling us if only we did this, we’d be happier!

No wonder we all just want to scream SHUT UP!

Jessie drunk off her face “GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS” (c) David Vagg [Tripelpunkt 2018]

The Beauty Pageant section as well can seem like a very comedic part of the show. Though to me it has a much deeper and sorrowful meaning. We have all at one point tried to change ourselves to fit a mould or stereotype of what a woman should be like. Not too long ago someone got it in their head that acting vacant would get people to like you. Being drunk off your face would get people to like you. Being overly sexual, prideful and plastic would get people to like you. Nowhere do you hear it’s ok to just be you. (Except maybe in yoga class).

This is a pretty scary realisation to come to.

In developing this work I learnt a lot about trusting a feeling. Sometimes it’s not enough to just dance, you have to have intention behind even the tiniest of movements. I learnt a lot from our director, Bonnie, who just wanted the work to spike people’s emotions. They could be good, bad, hate or sad. She just wanted our work to connect to people’s technology dulled down feelings. And hey if we can even get one person to feel strongly enough to write a picket sign in protest, then I feel we succeeded in our journey. (Thank you people of Newtown).

Side note: What was the hardest thing in developing this work?

The GIRLS in their heels ready for Satisfaction

Learning the absolute mind boggling piece called Satisfaction.

Here is my interpretation of our choreographer Bonnie.

“Ok girls….. Here are 16 movements you need to learn. Now as you’ve barely got your head around that you’re going to speed them up, slow them down, put them in a different order, do them at different times, but don’t you dare put a stiletto out of place!”

Even from New Zealand you may hear us screaming “SHUT UP”!!!!

Jessie will be returning to her home town of Wellington in March 2019 to perform in GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS at the NZ Fringe.

Tickets are on sale now through NZ Fringe.


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