Joanne Ashbridge


Live art performance - Joanne Ashbridge

Joanne Ashbridge
Choreographer/Live Artist /Practitioner

Read below HTBA Critique:

Time and Tidal Flow - Jo Ashbridge 'Full Time Indecisive'
Joanna Loveday
Saturday 26th April, 2pm (15 minute performance) 3pm (15 minute performance)
As the audience walked in to the performance space, Jo was already in her opening pose - stood on a chair on the small stage, cradling a dozen eggs in her skirt. One by one she picked them out and dropped them from the height of her chair, letting them smash into a hanging basket on the floor. Smooth easy listening accompanied, as Jo played out a sequence of gesture-based movement (dance) vignettes, her serene facial expression fixed in a half smile throughout.
In ‘Full Time Indecisive’, Jo could neither be pigeon-holed as a dancer, an actress or even a story teller, as she flitted through all of these personas with ease. Working with her props of eggs, two chairs and armfuls of baskets, she moved about the space - twirling, posing, idling and acting out minute narratives and moments of seemingly spontaneous movement. The movement was at times lusciously romantic, stylized and rehearsed yet simultaneously rushed, slapstick and statuesque. Jo began what seemed to be a complete choreographed phrase of work, to stop abruptly after just a few moments. She dropped her props, moved to a new position on stage and started a completely different act in a new style. For example from nervously throwing and catching eggs, higher and higher, on breaking one her focus immediately switched to balancing a chair on its side using only her foot. This abrupt ending and change in direction re-occurred throughout the performance, demonstrating Jo’s ‘indecision’ in just quite what and how to perform.
The soundtrack was played alternatively on a mobile phone in one of the egg baskets, an ‘i-dock’ and a turntable. It included two key tracks: I Only Have Eyes for You written by Al Dublin & Harry Warren, sung by Art Garfunkel and Ella Fitzgerald, and Waters of March written by Antonio Carlos Jobim and sung by Art Garfunkel. The music evoked both a sense of nostalgia and humour that complemented Jo’s movements, as it cheerily clunked along in the background regardless of how little or small her gestures were. By adding an over-dramatic soundtrack, slightly out of key with the events happening on stage, gave a surreal overtone to the whole performance, almost evoking a trance like state in the audience.
The surreal mood and musical theatre style glimmered through the gaps in the fragments and was at the very core of what made the piece work. Bouncing her ideas around, with a nod to cabaret and the west end magical ingredients of what it is to be true 'performer', Jo had a grin about her that gave the whole show a bit of the old 'razzmatazz' . Pulling away the layers of narrative, the set-design, lighting, theme and even focus of a performance, it is amazing what a cheeky smile and some raw honesty can achieve.
The songs were repeated throughout and eventually merged and overlapped at the climax. Jo circled the audience once and finished the piece with this pinnacle moment of ‘indecision’ - over which song to chose and just how to exit. All of this indecision added up to a predictably fragmented performance, yet with clear starts and endings to each vignette. Trying to connect each of the segments truly would be a ridiculous task, and probably pointless, as Jo points out, the performance shows the theme of indecision in a ‘loose and conceptual way’. What was particularly interesting in Jo’s acting out of her own indecision in this way, was that through the numerous ‘artistic ideas’ she shared with her audience, the pressure she put on herself to give a clear, entertaining and succinct performance, was itself on display. Her reluctance to disregard any one idea, yet simultaneously her dissatisfaction in presenting any singular idea became a frustration yet a fascination for both performer and audience.

In a cultural climate where droves of regular theatre attendees hand over their ready cash to see well polished shows – Hull Time Based Arts created a niche opportunity in programming a festival of fresh live art and contemporary performance. Jo made the most of this opportunity, bravely performing nothing but her own indecision. Despite the lack of narrative or interconnecting elements that could be read as a ‘whole’, with a clear artistic statement, her performance remained playful and unapologetic in its simple staging and 'indecisive' content. The use of music and the innocence of the indecisive ‘acts’, lent themselves to comedy as opposed to torturous or mundane acts of frustrating pointlessness. They came from somewhere genuine, and this authenticity carried the piece, keeping it light and simple. In this sense, Jo can be proud of the statement that ‘Full Time Indecision’ makes – which is that our own individual complexities and everyday interactions in life work and play, are at the very core of what fascinates and captivates us. She tackled her own indecision through performing not one, but many of her own artistic thoughts, and through this honesty, gave the audience live moments of comedy, boredom, beauty and bizarre brilliance.

When approached with an open mind, ‘Full Time Indecision’ provided a heavenly spot of relief from our heavily saturated, mediatized and hectic urban lifestyles. It was playful and honest, letting us step outside ourselves for a moment to take a look at our own inflamed ambitions and dissatisfactions in life, desires to be ‘perfect’ and accept out shortcomings. The performance dealt with an aspect of our very human condition and taught us once more how to laugh at ourselves. The work was raw in its very ‘indecisiveness’ with no element over rehearsed or re-worked to the point of no return. The performance was well suited to the Hull Time Based Arts Time & Tidal Flow festival that had change, experimentation and development at its core. The performance was the epitome of the philosophy ‘learning through play’ and its experimentation and unwillingness to be ‘fixed’ made for a changeable and transient fifteen minutes, that was a delight in and amongst the three day festival.
This performance took place as part of Time & Tidal Flow a free festival of new work and Live Art from Hull Time Based Arts and New Work Yorkshire.
Joanna Loveday
Joanna Loveday is a writer based in Yorkshire, specialising in writing for performance and live art. Contact:

© Joanna Loveday 2008 – seek permission before reproducing this text.


Joanne Ashbridge - Qualifications

Liverpool John Moores University
09/04-06/06 BA (Hons) Dance Studies (Physical Theatre).
Subjects include; Ballet, Choreography, Contact Improvisation, Contemporary Technique, Contextual Studies, Dance and Technology, Performance Project, Physical Theatre.

A Graduate Scholarship was received from Liverpool John Moores University on the basis of showing outstanding potential in the dance profession. This was recognised through a committed attitude toward the course, and extra-curricular activities conducted in preparation for future career (see Work Experience, Skills and Art Worker qualification below).

Artlink Exchange
08/05-04/06. Cartwheels - OCN (Level 3) Community Art worker Training.

Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts
09/03-06/04. Certificate of Higher Education - Community Arts (dance).

University of Salford
09/01-06/03. Higher National Diploma Physical Theatre/Dance.

Hull College
09/98-06/01. B-Tec National Diploma Performing Arts.
A-Level; English, Theatre Studies. GCSE; Art, Geography, Sociology







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