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Walker Dance Park
Music ďSilence of the SoulĒ, image by Ravi Deepres
Walker Dance Park Music
'Silence of the
by Lyndsey Winship
February 27, 2004
-- Linbury Studio Theatre/London
The fact that Fin Walker has changed the name of her company to include composer
Ben Park proves that the status of music in her work is more than mere
accompaniment. At the Linbury Studio the musicians are equal stars of
the show Ė assembled behind a translucent screen, they provide a visual
as well as an aural backdrop.
It is surprisingly uncommon for contemporary choreographers to use contemporary
classical music for their work, usually preferring atmospheric electronics,
catchy songs, or the safety of baroque counterpoint. But Parkís multi-layered
music is the perfect foil for Walkerís frenetic, stop-start movement,
adding extra dimensions of space and texture as well as underlining the
energy and momentum that drive the piece forward.
Itís an unconventional ensemble; a pair each of cellos, bassoons, and
trombones, plus double bass and percussion make for interesting shifts
of timbre between dense string chords, reedy melodies, and stuttering
percussive bursts. The music shares characteristics with the movement
but doesnít dictate it, or vice versa.
As for the dancing, this is Walkerís first full-length work, and itís
interesting to see whether her quick-fire choreography can fill a whole
evening. The dancers definitely have the stamina but for a choreographer,
making a longer work means looking at larger-scale structures and themes.
She starts boldly: the dancers have only just begun their rhythmic juts
and shunts when everything stops dead, in complete stillness and silence.
Itís a striking and quite exhilarating moment. Then everything resumes,
seven dancers tugging and spinning, in pairs and solo, colliding skilfully
with each other, setting off a chain of reactions before suddenly freezing
to the spot again and holding their silence for just longer than seems
Unfortunately, having introduced this device at the beginning, Walker
then does nothing with it. But never mind, thereís plenty more to look
"Silence of the Soul" has the sense of a precisely orchestrated
improvisation. It is controlled and polished yet at the same time, haphazard
and utterly unpredictable. Some of the movements are quite extreme Ė sharp
soaring extensions and tangled angular floorwork Ė but thereís no fuss
or fanfare, itís just straight on to the next move.
The look is sparse and stylish, the costumes are simple, slight and white,
and the lighting warm but unimposing. This piece feels very urban in the
sense of multiple lives lived closely together, the busy shifting rhythms,
the flurry, the hiatus and the impatience, and a sense of sophistication.
Unlike the pastoral lyricism of Alston or the futuristic, electronic feel
of Wayne McGregor, this is very now, genuinely contemporary.
Thereís a change of pace when the dancers switch from their quick combinations
to a series of painstakingly slow duets. Their bodies are very real, not
balletís weightless nymphs or circus acrobats. They lift each other just
centimetres from the ground with a firm grasp, winding their frames into
unlikely balances and combining bodies into geometric puzzles. A duet
for two female dancers is particularly fine, probably because itís the
kind of hands-on dancing that two women rarely do together.
From then on it all accelerates to a finish, and while this is immensely
enjoyable choreography you canít help but feel that Walker could have
explored or reinforced her overarching themes more pointedly. Nevertheless,
the fruitful partnership of Walker Dance and Park Music is definitely
a double act to watch.
Edited by JC
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