(M)imosa / Twenty Looks or Paris is Burning at the Judson Church (M)


I wanted to be a dancer when I was a child. My mother booked me ballet lessons, but after a few, when a lovely lady taught me how to be a curled up snail, another teacher came to take the class and as I was the only student in it, I found her style of teaching too intense. I left. I took up ballet again twenty years later. I’m not very good – I never really got past the snail stage. I do not have the strength of mind to remember a sequence of steps, let alone the strength of body. I cannot force it into incredible shapes. Mimosa can.

But then again, Mimosa can be anything she wants to be. She can be a powerful ballet soloist dressed in a soft pink feather cape- pas de chat, pas de chat – or she can be a booty-popping, pelvis-grinding street dancer, painted neon, wearing silver stripper clothes.

Mimosa does not care for race or gender. She speaks many languages and is all things at once. So when I say ‘she’, reader, feel free to swap this for ‘he’ or some other arbitrary label of your choosing.

When Mimosa walks on stage she wears a fleshy body stocking that extends right up over her face. A plastic penis protrudes though the fabric. On her feet she wears shoes which are both ballet pointes and vertiginous, dangerously spiked heels. She bends over and walks backwards on her hands and feet, penis pointed upward, back arched. How are you walking like this, Mimosa? You are sensational. But you have a little hole in the back of your stocking. You are flawless in your imperfections.

Mimosa sits on the side of the stage wearing a too-large dress and socks and slippers. She is making something from plastic straws like a child. Mimosa sits on a high stool and does a monologue about Gucci – knowing your fake shit from your real shit, and, importantly, knowing on which occas-i-ons to carry each. Just as Grandmother would have wanted. I wonder what my own grandmother might have thought of Mimosa. I’ve seen photographs of her and my grandfather dressed up, dragged up in Yugoslavia with painted eyebrows. Laughing faces drinking wine around a table. They are long since dead.

Mimosa belts out an elaborate operatic song close to the audience about fucking Germans and pushy Jews. Her notes are over-exaggerated, lingering, loud. Mimosa’s voice is low and slow. She makes us sing happy birthday, like Marliyn Monroe, to her Daddy. I used to think I was okay at singing. More recently I have realised I am quite terrible. I cannot pitch a note or follow a tune but Mimosa can, rather brilliantly. Unless she’s miming, of course, which she sometimes is. I can probably mime brilliantly too.

Mimosa knocks over a microphone. It breaks and its little head comes off, barely connected by a short green wire. Mimosa laughs. She breaks raw eggs in her mouth and the contents dribble down her front and on to the floor. Mimosa lounges about in a black jumper, Converse and corduroy trousers. She arranges a red scarf jauntily around her neck. Tiny flecks of orange paint mark her trousers. She is trembling and perfectly at ease.

Mimosa has silver hands, a purple wig. She has red lipstick, glittered rainbow eye shadow, neon orange lips, purple lipstick, maroon lipstick. Her fucking pants are falling down. ‘I’ll pull them up … later,’ she tells us.

She sure knows how to work the hairography. My friend Charly used to tell me that I had prostitute hair. Prostitutes in old movies always have messy, curly hair. I’m delighted that Mimosa does often, too – pulling it, flicking it, whipping it and tearing it out.

Mimosa is Adele, Prince, Kate Bush, Shirley Bassey.

Mimosa is fearless, terrified, powerful, fragile, lonely and a lover. She is indescribable.

I think I’m a little bit in love with you, Mimosa. Your hair, your stockings, your eyebrows and teeth, your strong muscular legs, your stuck-on vintage chicken fillets, slightly sagging and veined.

Mimosa is Trajal, François, Marlene and Cecilia.

Mimosa is me.


(M)imosa is a choreographic collaboration between Cecilia Bengolea, Francois Chaignaud, Marlene Freitas and Trajal Harrell. Performed at Arnolfini, Bristol, 13 February 2015.

Text part of my IBT15 Writing Residency


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