REVIEW: BalletLab’s LIVE WITH IT – We All Have HIV

Profoundly affecting

By Myron My

Live With It

BalletLab Artistic Director Phillip Adams and visual artist Andrew Hazewinkel’s current production, Live With It: we all have HIV,is a compilation of various performance pieces centred on living with HIV/AIDS. Each of these are unique in their own right and provide profoundly different perspectives on how the disease has affected the participants’ lives.

There are highly interesting pieces throughout, including one from a young dancer called George who takes us through the daily contents of his bag. His experience with HIV/AIDs is mentioned casually and flippantly but his words still drive a strong message home. Another one by John shows us a number of photographs depicting captured moments in the fight for equality for homosexuals, with a poignant final impression.

However, the one that created the biggest impact on me was Michelle, a white straight woman, who tells us how she contracted HIV/AIDs via the bundle of hospital tags she has acquired over the years of treatment. She manages to powerfully convey the fear and ignorance of people around her and the frustration, helplessness and determination that she has endured.

I did find some performances difficult to connect with and was left wondering what the significance might have been or what the artist was trying to have me feel. Given these pieces are so personal and intimate, and considering there is such creativity on display, it’s not surprising that not every one is going to impact every member of the audience.

Throughout Live With It: we all have HIV, there is a projection listing various events from the late 70s to today. Some are world-changing events such as 9/11 and others are pop-culture references like the release of Strictly Ballroom. Interspersed are facts on the HIV/AIDS epidemic with some frightening statistics on reported cases and death each year (which has steadily been on the rise) showing that we have all been “living with it” for decades.

As someone who has been fortunate enough to not have been personally affected by HIV/AIDS, Live With It is a stark and stirring reminder of how we all need to come together and open up discourse not only to stop the discrimination and stigma faced by people with HIV/AIDS, but to work towards a world where this disease is no longer present. A powerful piece indeed.

Venue: Arts House, Meat Market, 5 Blackwood Street, North Melbourne.
Season: Until 27 July | Tue – Sat 8:30pm, Sun 27, 3.00pm
Tickets: $25 Full | $20 Conc | $15 Student
Bookings: www.artshouse.com.au or 9322 3713

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