Review: Yami Lofvenberg – S.T.U.P.I.D

Stupid. The word weaves its way around Yami Lofvenberg’s production, alongside other derogatory slurs aimed at those with dyslexia.

‘Why are you so stupid?’

‘You’re not good enough.’

‘Many times a day I feel stupid.’

Lofvenberg and her cast who all suffer with dyslexia take their own experiences with the learning difficulty to produce a show which focuses on a young dyslexic girl who aspires to become a dancer. Obstacles such as bullies and struggles at school torment her, however the storyline fades into the background somewhat. What really shines is the fact that all four performers actually suffer from dyslexia themselves. Despite this, they’ve all overcome their hardships to forge successful careers in the dance industry.  The cast boast degrees in dance and directing their own companies. If anything is meant to inspire those with dyslexia, then this is it.

Dance productions that attempt to deliver a certain message, or bring awareness to a particular topic often are walking a very fine line. There has to be an equal balance between the factors which contribute to a successful show such as staging and choreography, and the actual topic that you are trying to advocate. In Lofvenberg’s case, the balance is skewed with the focus on delivering her message on dyslexia.

However, two dancers flourish when given the chance to dance solo. Throughout the 45 minute performance, Daniel Martin represents ‘everything bad’ about dyslexia. He often shadows his three female counterparts and lurks amidst the back of the stage. But towards the end of the performance, he finally dances and it is at this point that his talent becomes startlingly obvious. An apt bboy, his floor work is noteworthy as he suddenly holds a freeze but then allows his body to soften and curl as if he is melting. Xena Gusthart also shines as she performs her solo. Street dance charges through S.T.U.P.I.D, so when Gusthart incorporates a touch of contemporary dance, it is refreshing to see.

Lofvenberg’s piece of work shows promise and would inspire a younger audience and those with dyslexia or without, should watch this performance as it makes dealing with dyslexia more digestible and shines a light on a learning disorder that isn’t easily recognised.

Reviewed by Symone Keisha