Dance in Disguise

Photo by Chris Randle

Tara Cheyenne believes everybody has a number of different characters living inside of them.

She’s been able to uncover a host of characters for her solo shows, including a slimy talk-show host, an uptight 50s mom, and a high school metal-head. For this year’s Festival of New Dance in St. John’s, Cheyenne will play Goggles, also known as Norman, a nine-year-old boy. It’s a full-length work that draws from her background in theatre, improv comedy and dance to create what’s become her own style of one-woman dance-theatre.

A video clip from the metal-head work, bANGER, shows Cheyenne sticking a scraggly-looking goatee to her chin before she shape-shifts into a greasy-haired, air guitar-playing teenager brimming with angst. She thrashes her way through scenes full of screeching guitar until there really is no question about it: She is this person. This person is her.

Cheyenne says she spends a lot of time making sure the character is authentic.

“My husband is always elbowing me because I’m staring at somebody,” she says. “But it’s all out of sincere interest of how people move and how people speak.”

For the role in Goggles, Cheyenne will hit the stage in a hooded sweatsuit and goggles. It’s quickly apparent things aren’t all right with Norman. His dad and his new girlfriend have gone away and left him with a babysitter. He copes with his loneliness by building a fantasy world.

When she talks about him there’s a certain quality to Cheyenne’s voice that sounds tender and concerned.

“He’s a weird kid”, she says. “He’s a really weird kid, but the kind of kid we all recognize.”

While stuck at the babysitter’s house, he fantasizes he’s the detective in a crime scene of a double murder. A dark comedy whodunit the audience also gets a crack at trying to solve.

Cheyenne says she herself is obsessed with crime drama and grisly murder mysteries like CSI and Law and Order, and that’s where this character came from. In the studio she was searching inside herself, trying to find one of the personalities inside her that has that obsession.

“You know how little people go through a phase where they’re interested in gory things, dead things, and worms, and poop? Well, [Goggles] came out of that place.”

“It sounds like multiple personalities,” she says, “but I think if we all did what I did we could all probably pull these different kinds of people out of yourself. It’s something I think is really fascinating and can be quite liberating.”

Tara Cheyenne will perform Goggles as part of the Festival of New Dance on Wednesday, October 10 at 8pm. Tickets are $25-$15, and are available at the LSPU Hall, 3 Victoria Street. 753-4531.


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  1. daniel · May 2, 2012

    I saw Tara when in I was Vancouver! Not to be missed!

  2. Stanley · May 2, 2012

    I saw her in Toronto. ah-maz-ing.