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Silent Lines

by on 6 July 2022

Liquid Limber Light  

Silent Lines

by Richard Maliphant, music by Dave Price after Georges Bizet

Russell Maliphant Dance Company at Richmond Theatre until 5th July

Review by Suzanne Frost

My one time boss, a brilliant and successful CEO and mother of two, used to say you always bring your whole person to work.  Of course your performance in your job is impacted by whatever is going on in your life at that moment, and being a critic is no different.  How you react to a performance has much to do with profane things such as how you got here, how comfortable your seat is, how busy your mind.  I arrived at the Richmond Theatre in this particular instance barely two minutes before curtain-up, having handed over my newborn to my husband in the hallway in a mad dash handover, running to catch the train while my phone beeped frantically with breaking news alerts of the crumbling government.  I have no time to read programme notes so enter the Maliphant universe with a blank open mind. 

As darkness sets, bodies begin to move in Maliphant’s typically Zen slow motion style.  Their minimalist clad silhouettes serve as backdrop for stunning video projections by Panagiotis Tomaras, layering their bodies with a watery pattern that moves like the ripples of a swimming pool.  On the simple black box stage, light becomes the main performer.  In the semi darkness, individual faces are almost unrecognizable, as anonymous bodies begin a roundelay, bound together by holding hands, the movement of one body impacting another.  Everything is liquid, not a sharp movement in sight.  Then the dance becomes more rhythmic and animated, as solo dancers emerge from the group. 

The choreography explores every possible way the human body can spin and spiral in every aspect of its anatomy.  Dancers enter the stage turning and someone else spins off into the wings.  Everything is turning.  The effect is trance like, like Dervishes whirling into a state of Nirvana.  The dance is underlaid with a sound-bath that you couldn’t quite call music, shifting from vibrating noise, to wooden percussions, animal sounds, rain drops and something resembling a singing saw.  It reminds me very much of the sleep sounds we have used in the first few months to help our newborn to sleep.  The entire experience is extremely calming and meditative, but while it may sound boring it is utterly absorbing.  Yes, the mind does wander at times, focusing the senses.  I am suddenly aware of the vibrations of sound in the auditorium floor, the woody dusty Old Library smell of the Richmond Theatre.  But every time you refocus on to the stage you are welcomed back with another beautiful image.  The semi darkness and the floating costumes may potentially hide any mistakes, but the dancers seem at all times completely, calmly in control.  I am particularly impressed by Alex Thirkle, a young dancer who is extraordinarily limber.  The absolute highlight however belongs to performer Edd Arnold who uses his impressive breakdancing skills to unbelievably poetic effect, as he quietly, gently tumbles and spins across the floor to a soft Chopin-like piano tune.  Life is slowed right down.  The mind is calmed.  An utterly dreamy hour of dance meditation.

Suzanne Frost, July 2022

Photography courtesy of RMDC

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