Russell Maliphant Dance Company, Silent Lines, Excelsior Studios

Russell Maliphant Dance Company, Silent Lines, Excelsior Studios
Russell Maliphant Dance Company, Silent Lines, Excelsior Studios

Teresa Guerreiro

Dancemaker extraordinaire Russell Maliphant creates a unique opportunity to view one of his most transporting works, Silent Lines, up close and personal. This fluid one-hour work will be performed throughout October in Maliphant’s own workplace, which is part of Excelsior Studios in the Park Royal neighborhood of West London.

Silent Lines had its London premiere at Sadler’s Wells three years ago. Below is Culture Whisper’s review:

At his best Russell Maliphant transports audiences to a different plane; and in Silent Lines he is at his best.

This new work, co-produced by Sadler’s Wells, continues and develops Maliphant’s fascination with the dynamics of the human body. As well as delving into, and combining, a variety of forms of movement, from classical ballet to tai chi and the Brazilian fighting dance capoeira, Maliphant has also studied anatomy, physiology and biomechanics.

Like most of Russell Maliphant’s canon, Silent Lines is primarily an abstract work; but it is loosely inspired by the internal, invisible connections between the tissues and organs of the human body.

As it starts, the five dancers of the Russell Maliphant Dance Company are perceived more as a huddle of lines, as if their bodies were seen through diffuse, shimmering X-rays.

The illusion is achieved through a felicitous combination of video projections by the Greek video and light artist Panagiotis Tomaras and lighting design by Tomaras and Maliphant himself.

So perfect is the communion between these elements that on the ever-crepuscular stage the light itself becomes movement, as it creates an interplay of reveal/conceal with parts of the dancers’ bodies. Stevie Stewart’s costumes, soft white tops and ample, flowing gray trousers absorb and modulate the light, thus compounding and enhancing the movement.

The five dancers – Alethia Antonia, Edd Arnold, Grace Jabbari, Moronfoluwa Odimayo and Will Thompson – are all new to Maliphant’s company, but you wouldn’t know it from the way they embody his unique style, his combination of fluidity, definition and rigour . In fact, Silent Lines was co-created with the dancers themselves and embodies much of each individual.

Silent Lines comprises many of Maliphant’s trademark tropes: slow, hypnotic turns and stretches, a perpetual movement flow that transitions seamlessly from ensemble work to duets and solos. Deep backbends recur; creamy pliés keep much of the dancing earthbound. Sometimes the men rise in unexpected capoeira jumps, their backs at an angle to the ground, legs scissoring high, and land so silently that you wonder if you imagined it all.

Dana Fouras’s sound design offers a perfect complement to the dance. It’s unobtrusively present, blending elongated electronic notes, syncopated beats and classical instrumental pieces: Benjamin Godard’s violin work ‘Berceuse de Jocelyn’ and a passage from Chopin’s Piano Concerto No 2.

Maliphant’s genius resides in having an immediately identifiable style, and yet being able to take it – and us along with it – to new places with every new work. The hypnotic nature of his movement seems to lift us to a transcendental plane, one where we can feel weightless, suspended in wonderment. Silent Lines does just that, and perhaps a little more than words can properly express.

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