Press, by Carmen Ali

Vincent Dance Theatre’s Motherland is an astounding piece of mixed genre theatre; music, dance and physical theatre, which uses words, movements, songs and repetition to convey social inequality and challenge stereotypes and expectations of women and men.

After the initial scenes of the performers walking on and off the stage, the first scene is Aurora Lubos entering the stage, opening a bottle and throwing some of the red liquid in the bottle against the white backdrop. It makes a bloody spatter and she lifts up her dress, revealing her knickers and leans against the wall. Then Andrea Catania enters and drops to the floor, and Patrycja Kujawska walks on playing a violin. It’s a shocking first image and one that evokes many different interpretations. The blood near the genitals could mean anything – menstruation, abortion, childbirth, sexual assault, FGM. It conjures up the visceral nature of a woman’s body; the violence and pain that we are so often subject to as women. This scene is repeated throughout with the violin changing from melancholy to more hurried, aggressive violin playing. It could reflect our desire as women not to be pitied anymore, but to fight back and make changes. In the penultimate talk of WOW festival on the Sunday, Jude Kelly, artistic director of Southbank centre talked about zero tolerance and how it’s imperative that we call out sexism when we see it if we are going to achieve change.

Other powerful scenes include the 12 year old girl Alice Hockey playing with her hair, showing how we are sexualised from a young age. She asks us ‘do you like my hair?’ Then she directs the question at Janusz Orlik, showing women seeking approval from men. At one point she sees Patrycja Kujawska putting on lipstick and posing and asks ‘why are you doing that?’ Then they both contort into an uncomfortable position, perhaps highlighting how we bend ourselves to society’s ideals. Motherland is a phantasmagorical masterpiece with lots of discussion and imagery of trees, earth, cotton wool, giving birth, shoes and more blood. Janus Orlik puts on a dress and dances to Beyoncé, Joan Pluntett speaks two poignant monologues about having children, Darren Anderson eats a banana he’s hidden down his trousers, Greig Cooke dances with Alice Hockey, and there are some humorous staged fighting and sexual intercourse scenes.

Read full review here, by Josephine Leask

Vincent Dance Theatre’s Motherland contributed a vital presence to the Women of the World festival (WOW) at Southbank Centre (5 – 9 March), as well as playing on the eve of International Women’s Day. As I sat in a largely, (but not exclusively) female dominated audience, I felt the anticipatory buzz of this festival and an excitement about, yes I feel I can say it now without sounding cheesy, celebrating the experience of being a woman – both the good and the bad!

While it’s an ambitious project which aims to depict some of the shared experiences of women and men and how they ‘embody’ their genders, the cast of Motherland do not disappoint: persuasive personalities, skilled practitioners and generally the kind of women and men with whom I would be happy to hang out for a couple of hours.

There’s heaps of dance, music and action in this variety show which covers both the humour and the tragedy of being a woman but what really emerges as the most potent aspect of the piece is the way in which the performers establish their identities and a rapport with the audience by simply standing on stage and looking at us. These precious moments of stillness and direct eye contact function like silent monologues, sprinkled before and after the multiple sketches to convey a plethora of conversations which don’t need to be realised through action or words.

Read full review here, by Catherine Sutherland

Aggressively sexual, full-frontally experimental and self-consciously provocative, Vincent Dance Theatre’s Motherland dirtied the stage at the Southbank Centre last Thursday as part of the WOW (Women of the World) Festival 2014. Utterly mad, sometimes poignant and beautiful, and often uncomfortable, Motherland celebrates women in a peculiar and incredibly thought-provoking way.

Read full review here

Blog: monsenldn, by Montserrat Gilli

I must start by saying that this is one of the best pieces of theatre/dance I have seen in a very long time. Including my recent trip to London to witness yet another Pina play, but maybe that’s why I see the Pina legacy so clearly throughout Vincent’s piece.

A very talented cast transits through vignettes addressing issues of sexual stereotyping, sometimes very obvious but nevertheless powerful, mostly because they all feel soaked by the human experience of the performers. Meanwhile all these is witnessed by a 12 year girl who seems puzzled at times by the bizarreness of being an adult, and perhaps wondering if that’s the world she’s heading into. It’s just that precious moment before she becomes and adult herself, stepping into the action and taking part at times whilst an observer at others.

Read full review here

Problems of Growing Up Female, The New York Times, by Gia Kourlas

Throughout Charlotte Vincent’s “Motherland,” which takes place on a white stage, several scenes repeat in exacting precision: Aurora Lubos walks onto the stage holding a bottle, unscrews its lid and flings its dark red contents onto a pristine wall. She then hikes up her dress, spreads her legs and leans against it with a hollow expression; it looks like menstrual blood. The stain sets.

Andrea Catania, another performer, stands motionless before crashing onto the floor. Finally Patrycja Kujawska, in heels and a black dress, crosses the stage while playing the violin.

In “Motherland,” performed Thursday at the Alexander Kasser Theater at Montclair State University, Ms. Vincent, a British choreographer, explores some issues facing women today, from childbirth to inequality in the job market. But she doesn’t leave men out. At first seen as slightly cartoonish figures — boisterous, slightly macho, clueless — they gradually home in on a brotherly sensitivity that crystallizes in a supported dance featuring Greig Cooke.

Read full review here

Jake Orr Blog

A pristine white floor and wall mark the start of Vincent Dance Theatre’s Motherland at the Edinburgh Fringe. This white expanse is covered in dirt and blood by the end of the piece, as if a battle has taken place, which feels an apt metaphor for describing this dance-theatre piece. Exploring what it is to be a woman and a mother, their relationship to their bodies and societies ideas of who they should be, Motherland offers striking images of women vs men in this battle of the sexes.

A performer throws red liquid to symbolise blood against the back wall. She lifts her shirt and crouches in front of the stain as it steadily drips to the floor. A miscarriage or menstruation? A symbol of women nonetheless, Motherland is haunted by these women smeared with ‘blood’ that trickles down their thighs as they bend and flex their perfect legs and sway their perfect hips. Not all images are as obviously juxtaposed, there’s a great deal of subtly and conviction to the piece from director Charlotte Vincent.

Read full review here

The Quotidian Times Blog

This show by the Vincent Dance Theatre is a visual feast set with monochromatic black and white working with and against each other under a harsh spotlight which places the audience in the performers view as well as vice versa. It also contains many flashes of brilliance, intensity and wonder but at over two hours long there are some moments which could have been edited to make it a far punchier effort; it could easily lose fifteen minutes with little disruption to the flow and possibly half an hour would give it more edge. These are minor gripes however and all in all it was a stunning and involving piece of work.

Read full review here


The Observer, by Luke Jennings

There’s a sequence in Vincent Dance Theatre’s Motherland that’s repeated at intervals throughout the two-hour piece. Aurora Lubos enters with a bottle of blood-red dye, slops a great gob of it on the all-white backdrop and, hitching her skirt up to her waist, leans back against it so that it seems to be welling from inside her, then fixes us with a sad, abject gaze. Then Andrea Catania comes on, flicks a hopeless glance at the audience and collapses, apparently lifeless, on to a pile of soil. Finally, Patrycja Kujawska saunters diagonally across the stage, playing a lyrical air on a violin.

Choreographer-director Charlotte Vincent founded her company in Sheffield in 1994 and since that date has undertaken a series of explorations of the human condition and of the nature of performance itself. Lubos’s actions remind us of the ineluctable nature of the female cycle, while simultaneously informing us of her physical preoccupations as a dancer who is also a mother. Catania’s collapse suggests a different realm of female experience: a sense of her own invisibility. An apprehension that she could, at any moment, be obliterated from the consciousness of those about her. “I’m here,” she calls out at intervals. “I’m still here.” Kujawska, meanwhile, seems to provide a commentary on the way that the raw stuff of women’s lives is aestheticised and made poignant. The eternal, after all, does not have to be acted on.

Read full review here

Cloud Dance Festival, by Anna Pearce

One of the great things about the performance space in the Robin Howard Dance Theatre at The Place is the proximity of the audience to the performers and their experiences on stage. As Charlotte Vincent’s cast of ten (five men, four women and one child) present their smiling selves to their audience in the opening of Motherland, the smiles connected and felt infectious, many in the audience smiling back at them.

Read full review here

LondonDance, by Jeffrey Gordon Baker

In Hollywood speak it could be said that Charlotte Vincent’s Motherland has high production values. It is a slick and stylish piece of dance theatre that tackles feminist concerns with a gritty, gutsy humour. Aurora Lubos clip-clops across the stage in high heels and a little black dress, holding a wine bottle as though she’s on her way to a dinner party. She stops, opens the bottle and douses the wall with a splash, not of wine, but a viscous bright red liquid. She then lifts up her skirt, positioning herself over the mark so it looks as though the splatter has just run out of her own body. The blood, sweat and dirt of late second wave feminism are all on display in this episodic treatment of sex, womanhood, manhood and to a lesser extent, motherhood.

Read full review here

The Stage, by Neil Norman

Charlotte Vincent’s dance and theatre company has been creating provocative work since 1994 and the latest packs a considerable wallop on behalf of the sisterhood. A succession of rapid sequences – some of them repeated at various intervals during the two-hour running time – attempt to expose the fundamental differences (and inequalities) between men and women, physically, psychologically and socially. Sex, menstruation and childbirth are depicted with startling theatrical images. There is a lot of blood.

What saves this from being just another exercise in nu-feminist men-bashing is the sheer wealth of imagery and an exhilarating propulsion.

Structured like a kind of warped Alice in Wonderland, with a 12-year-old girl witnessing the events and asking awkward questions about her own burgeoning sexuality, it is also blessed with a live musical accompaniment of spectacular depth and variety.

Read full review here

The Guardian, Judith Mackrell

Charlotte Vincent’s new work about physical and sexual politics revolves around the anxious, quizzical presence of a 12-year-old girl. As Leah Yeger observes the behaviour of the nine adults around her, we can see her sharp-featured, haunting little face pondering what it will feel like when she is grown up, too.

This is the unique strength of Motherland. Much of its material addresses obvious issues of sexual stereotyping, but it’s tethered to the flesh and blood experience of the individual. Vincent might deliver a comic riff on the cheap sexualisation of women’s bodies – three women in cripplingly high heels, contorted into cartoon displays of provocation – but she counters it with moving references to real life. As 78-year-old Benita Oakley talks quietly about giving birth or Aurora Lubos crouches over splatters of dark red gore, Vincent asks the implicit question of how women can be free, between the two extremes of botox and blood.

Read full review here

The London Evening Standard, Lyndsey Winship

American author Hanna Rosin recently published a book called The End of Men, arguing that women were moving towards being the dominant sex, more capable of adapting to our fast-changing world. The patriarchy is morphing into a matriarchy, apparently. Rosin’s thesis came to mind while watching Charlotte Vincent’s new dance theatre piece Motherland, which focuses on women, motherhood and having it all. Was this a portrait of women thriving in a new era, glossy CEOs tapping on their BlackBerrys while popping out babies? Hardly. Was it an unromanticised picture of identity crisis, competing pressures, running in circles and a lot of (rather realistic) periods? Yep, that’s the one.

Read full review here

Ballet Dance Magazine, David Mead

Charlotte Vincent’s new “Motherland” is a challenging, multi-layered and often thought-provoking journey through motherhood, women’s choices and image. Much of the time that journey is messy. A recurring scene sees Aurora Lubos walk on in an elegant black evening dress and high heels, red wine bottle in hand. But instead of drinking it, she splashes red blood-like liquid against the white back wall, hitches up her dress and, staring straight at us, sits right over the stain. After a few seconds, Andrea Catania walks on and collapses in a pile of earth, closely followed by Patrycja Kujawska playing a soulful tune on a violin. Explanation is not required. And what is Vincent’s view of men? She has them walk on, smile at us, drink from the bottle and walk off. Don’t think for a minute, though, that Vincent’s journey is all dark and depressing; far from it.

Read full review here

The Times, Donald Hutera

Charlotte Vincent packs a lot of thought and feelings into her latest work for the Sheffield- based Vincent Dance Theatre. Lasting two hours, this sometimes admirably uncompromising, yet bloated and patchy company-devised production deals with mothering, women’s choices, rights and image (both as depicted by the wider culture and self-defined) and the inequality between the sexes. With a multi-generational cast of ten it’s staged and structured like a Pina Bausch cabaret.

Read full review here (The Times online is subscription only)

Writing About Dance, Nicholas Minns

Life is a messy business, starting, as Charlotte Vincent does in Motherland, with periods. Aurora Lubos, elegantly dressed in black evening wear and high heels walks on to the bare, white stage with a bottle of red wine. She unscrews the top and slops it against the pristine backdrop at seat level: a dripping red splash. She puts down the bottle, hitches up her tight skirt and slides her back down the wall until she is sitting over the red stain. She remains there for a moment looking at us, challenging us to accept what she is representing. Soon after, an exhausted Andrea Catania walks in and collapses on the floor, like a bag from which the wind has been suddenly removed. Patrycja Kujawska walks across the back playing an elegy on her violin for the two women. It is a sequence that repeats throughout Motherland, Vincent’s examination of ‘the complex internal and external relationships that women have with their bodies, with their sense of self and with men.’ The latter are represented a few seconds later by a carefree Greig Cooke who walks on with his bottle of wine, smiles at us as he unscrews the top and takes a swig before continuing on his way.

Read full review here

Interview by Article19 with Charlotte Vincent and cast members of Motherland.

Watch the interview here>