Available Light by Lucinda Childs, Frank Gehry and John Adams;
performed by The Lucinda Childs Company
Palace Theatre, Manchester; part of Manchester International Festival [07.07.17]
Edging forward. Black. Red. White. Two quartets and a trio. This is what silence sounds like.
A repeated phrase occurs constantly. Duets, trios and quartets of dancers complete the phrase in cycles. Changing direction is juxtaposed against moments of static. There’s a techno xylophone vibe in the air and we watch the phrase repeated again and again. Different groupings moving completely in sync, commencing the sequence at different times. And then it elapses.
This is more like a pause than a fermented stop. It’s like the moment that you spend waiting for a lift to start moving or for a programme to buffer on I-player. This moment is minuscule in the grand scheme of things and usually a pocket of time that we would miss or flit away. Yet baring witness to stillness is something we rarely have the opportunity to subject ourselves to. We don’t get to hover in time and watch movements in their infancy transpire from fine to gross: it is not a privilege that comes with modern life. Pace moves much faster than we do and we’re left in a cycle of aspiration and failure to keep up. Each time we observe the same eloquent phrase, it is not merely to display technique. It is to bring us into consciousness and ask us to question all the moments in our lives that may well be mundane, linear and robotic.
Following suit is compulsive. We cannot help but respond to the storm in a teacup that reflects going through the motions. Moving together in unison brings power but standing still surrounded by organised, regimented chaos demands a certain sort of composure. But that is a state that is not easily acquired when perched on a pedestal that is somewhat out of sync with its surroundings.
There’s an urgency, an increased systole-diastole dynamic in sound. It’s almost irrelevant whether you are stopping or starting because what if state you’re in your experience is shared. It’s part of a greater movement.
Available Light is as much about stagnated progress as it is about transitioning forward, and stillness. Red lights give bodies a golden statuesque complexion, whilst white lights soften the heat to a pale bronze. A wake up call to reality. We come into this space along. Exist both together and separately. Then leave alone.
Verdict: This was a very unique piece of dance and for that it should be commended. Possibly not one for anyone with very wayward attention, though I have the attention span of a flea and was with this all the way. Original, thrilling and conscious.