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Review 2, 3-5: "Silence of the Soul"
Suspended Moments and Other Intensities from Walker Dance Park Music
By Josephine Leask
Copyright 2004 Josephine Leask
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LONDON -- Walker Dance
Park Music's "Silence of the Soul," seen February 26 at the Royal
Opera House's Linbury Studio Theatre, is a symbiotic marriage of
contemporary music and dance fueled by the creative force of choreographer
Fin Walker and composer Ben Park. The husband and wife team's musicians
and dancers are visible on stage and everyone's presence is both
significant and valued in the work.
Walker, a highly respected
independent choreographer, performer and teacher from a mainly contact
improvisation background has been making work for 13 years, although
her company in its present existence is still relatively new. "Silence
of the Soul" has a very fresh look, and an added quirkiness, as
if Walker's choreography had taken on a new lease on life, maybe
from the energy of collaboration with Park and his musicians. Dare
I say the production values also look more glamorous than the last
time I saw the company, a few years ago. The costumes for "Silence
of the Soul" resemble chic variations on Calvin Klein's and Donna
Karan's underwear collection, while an uplifting lighting design
by Lucy Carter floods the stage during several sections of the piece
and illuminates the dancers in their delicate white costumes.
Walker's work has always
been concerned with purity and form; she is obsessed with sharp,
tricky movement and challenging but highly connected partner work,
uncluttered by theatrical frills. In "Silence of the Soul," her
choreography is fast and surprisingly tense for a choreographer
who has trained in release-based techniques (such as Alexander and
contact improvisation), but this is what makes the work interesting.The
dancers perform lifts and balances at great speed, fast shuffles
along the floor or whipping turns, with an array of neurotic gestures
thrown in between, which add an uncharacteristically personal touch.
Park's vibrant soundscore, consisting of percussion, a throaty bassoon
and trombones tumbles along to match the pace of the movement.
There is not much slack
in this choreography, not much time for Zen moments or breath, so
it is just as well that the dancers perform so tightly as a team.
All of the seven dancers look impressively alert and aware of exactly
where each other is spatially throughout the work. At times they
perform like an assembly line, passing movement from one to another
as fluidly as a Mexican wave, and while they dance individual solos
and duets, their strength lies in their togetherness, like that
of an orchestra.
There are, however,
abrupt moments of complete stillness and silence, in which dancers
and musicians freeze, as if they need time out to contemplate after
such frenetic bouts of activity. What is wonderful about these theatrically
suspended moments is that they seem to last forever (to the audience)
and introduce a fascinating level of intensity. We can literally
see the performers taking stock and sizing up, before the next attack.
Towards the end of the
piece, there is a chaotic acceleration in the speed of the movement,
just when we thought it couldn't get any faster, and with a triumphant
flourish both sound and movement end.
Walker and Park are
artists who have worked hard both together and as individuals without
the recognition they deserved and now they have finally caught the
dance public's attention with this potent cocktail of dance and
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