Arts & Culture

Silent Lines: Capoeira Meets Chiaroscuro2 min read

If nothing else, Silent Lines will make you believe in the subjectivity of time perception.

An abstraction of nerve and tissue patterns, the choreography will draw you into a meditative state. Before you know it, the hour-long performance will be over.

The fluid and flow-based choreography is a fusion of contemporary ballet and the Afro-Brazilian martial art, Capoeira. This style eschews pre-determined sequences of movement. It favours improvisation, and stems from a repetitive circular motion that has no beginning or end.

As a result, the work is never static and possesses a reactive immediacy in its rhythm. Choreographer Russell Maliphant has aimed to convey a kinaesthetic world as alive as the nervous system it abstracts from.

He has undeniably succeeded.

What is astoundingly impressive about the work is its ability to make you feel almost every emotion possible, despite, on a literal level, depicting nothing at all. In the absence of a plot there is a presence of poignancy.

From beginning to end, the beauty of Silent Lines is vigorously emotive. The striking lighting and projection designs by Panagiotis Tomaras rely heavily on shadow. The chiaroscuro contrast between light and dark ripples symbiotically with the five dancers until it is hard to distinguish where one begins and the other ends.

Photograph: Martin Collins

Owing its vibrancy to the collaborative nature of Maliphant’s process, the piece is not a choreography that has been inflicted upon its dancers. Contrarily it is a synergy between every creative contributor.

A patchwork of dance styles, soundscapes and lighting designs simultaneously evolved, until they arrived at a harmonious conclusion.

Silent Lines sound designer, Dana Fouras, enthused: “It’s like getting to the biting point when driving a car. You have to find the piece between the human beings involved.  It’s really quite special”.

I am inclined to agree.

Future touring dependent on funding. Watch this space.

Lydia Spencer-Elliott


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