WHO: WALKER DANCE<BR>WHEN: THU 1 NOV<BR>WHERE: THE PLACE ROBIN HOWARD DANCE THEATRE<BR>TICKETS: 020 7387 0031<P><B>FIN WALKER: THE FEELING MOMENT</B><P>The work of Birmingham-born Jerwood Award winner Fin Walker has a cross-over appeal. It can be admired by dance aficionados and appreciated by dance novices alike. In her Umbrella debut Walker will perform a new solo called Moment to Moment. She's also in The 3 of Us, which could be described as trio for five people. The piece actually consists of two sets of three people: two women and a man, and three men.<P>Each of Walker's dances is a follow-on from its predecessor. "It's all been made over the past two years," she says. "It all feels like it's the same piece. I get clearer and clearer, getting to grips with what I'm doing and articulating that." She speaks of writing a note to the audience simply stating, These are my thought, this is where things are going.<P>And just where is that? Well, Walker has been on an energy healing course, recently finishing the first of a two-year commitment. How has this impacted her work? "I wanted to ground my work in a much more scientific basis. It's very much about dealing with the energy you can't see, that you experience in the same way as you would light, sound and tone. It's very much to do with emotion. When we feel, it connects us to the moment. What I'm trying to do with the work is enable audiences to connect with themselves. It's coming from relationships, communication connected to the movement. I'm into details - the moment-to-moment intricacies between people." Her desire is "to raise the level of the frequency." The result, she hopes, is "more positive vibrations in the universe."<P>Uh-oh. Even Walker realises that this sounds so... New Age. We joke about veils and crystal balls. But, listening to her, there isn't a trace of self-indulgence or self-inflation in her voice. Nor is there in the work itself. "These are not completely altruistic acts," she says, "but I'm not doing it for myself. This is my contribution. It's a stage of healing. People being in touch with themselves. Or else what are we doing here? It's about the larger questions: Why do we live? Why be in this lifetime? Why this place? It feels engaging. I'm engaged. People either will like it or not. That's part of it for me. As long as they're feeling something."<P>"I see a lot of dance where I can admire the aesthetic but be totally untouched by what I'm witnessing. I'm developing my own devices in order to put my work out there. It's not the norm, but it offers a lot for different people. Some resonate with the music, the lights and costumes. Some find their own story or narrative." Here it has to be said that Walker's dances are not narratives per se. However, she is using the body to tell a sort of story about what it is to be human. "It's a universal thing. We all know anger, pain, joy. Each of us just has a different story around all of that." If somebody's 'story' (translate as 'life experience to date') resonates with the 'story' Walker is presenting onstage, then for her "that's what it's all about."<P>When she's in the studio actually making a piece, how does Walker talk with her dancers about what she wants? "I never give them emotions to work with. We're only dealing with physicality." She reels off words like blocked, fluid, surrender, essence, pulsate, penetrate, quirky. These terms help describe, isolate and shape physical and emotional states which are then juxtaposed, combined or layered for a finished dance. But it's unlikely, at this stage, that words will figure in a performance itself. "I don't want to use text. That's what I love about dance. The challenge is, How can you say what you want to say without using words."<P>We talk about the duality of acting, whereby you may be deeply involved in your character's psychological and emotional impulses (expressed as action) yet are also 'outside' monitoring them. Walker relates this to her solo. "With dancing it's me... but it's also me. Who is this 'other' me? Is that essence? Soul? I don't see a lot of dance where that happens. That's why I continue to strive for something like that. But you've got to get out of your own way."<P>Walker has been making up dances since she was eleven. Professionally, her starting point was about a decade ago, having danced for people like Jonathan Burrows, Rosemary Butcher, Laurie Booth and The Cholmondeleys. All the while she was learning, and making work on a low-key basis. "It was very much about putting out ideas, finding my voice." She's become more up-front about her ambitions: breaking boundaries with the intention of creating something new.<P>Walker quotes her publicist, who says that there's no pressure for an audience to 'get' her client's dances. Then she tells me a little story. During a company tour of Devon and Cornwall, a woman arrived early at the venue to pick up her daughter. Invited in to watch the show, she was worried and embarrassed about not understanding it. "But afterwards," Walker reports, "she said, 'I felt something!' She was so excited. She 'got' it. Because it's about her, not about us. It's about who's watching."<P>
This interview was posted by Stuart Sweeney on behalf of Donald Hutera and first appeared in Dance Umbrella News.
Donald Hutera writes regularly on dance and arts for The Times, Evening Standard, Time Out, Dance Europe, Dance Magazine (US) and Dance Now. He is co-author, with Allen Robertson, of The Dance Handbook.
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