"Quiet Listening Exercises"
Julia Robinson, Phoebe Robinson, Felicity Mangan
Curated by: Next Wave
Opening: Tuesday 18 May, 6-8pm
Dates: 18-29 May 2004
In a novel take on the intimate performance experience phenomenon, dancer-choreographers Julia and Phoebe Robinson have created Quiet Listening Exercises, a dance piece in which viewers listen to the score via headphones while the performance proceeds in silence.
Transmitting the sound through headphones allows the audience to immerse themselves in the work, removing the distraction of outside sounds. Although watchers gain an intimate connection to the sound score, some of the personal connection with the dancers is lost. The feeling of separation is magnified in a moment of darkness, the audience isolated by their headphones with only the haziest square of light illuminating the space. Are the women moving, or are our eyes playing tricks?
The choreography is almost completely abstracted, leaving only the vaguest reminders of the fairytales that it apparently developed from. It seems that the strength of this work lies in its ambiguity, allowing viewers to project their imaginations onto the scenario.
Quietly beautiful, the dancers refrain from virtuosic movement and yet imbue the work with precise shifts in dynamic. In one section they subside into the ground, their languorous poses soon to be contrasted against tense snatches of phrase that dart in and out from behind a wall.
The sophisticated sound score by Felicity Mangan evokes a tinkling, ethereal landscape. Intermittent blue and orange globes are strung along the walls like tangled thorn bushes, the only adornment to the small, bare space. Childishly simple yet finely textured costuming by Jamie Hurst Nelson is suitably indeterminate.
Quiet Listening Exercises is tantalising in its brevity, a finely tuned performance infused with mystery.