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March 14-16, 21-23 2008

 Da Contents H2


nalina wait: the body danced

martin del amo

Nalina Wait Nalina Wait
photo Andrew Whoolley
In a large, half-lit space, Nalina Wait sits by a standard lamp with a white, pleated shade. Her torso is straight, almost rigid, leaning backwards, slightly. Her left hand searches for the light switch. The lamp exudes a warm, golden glow, the shade tilted at the same angle as the dancer's torso. Slowly, she turns her head upwards, allowing it to be bathed in light. She continues the circular motion initiated with the head, letting it travel through her body in a downward spiral towards her feet. These seem to have a life of their own, gingerly stepping away from the rest of Wait’s body, which soon follows, languidly moving across the floor into standing. Against a subtle electronic soundtrack, Wait is now in the dark, backlit by the lamp. She has utmost control over her body. And yet there seems to be a mysterious force at play that is larger than herself.

Suddenly, Wait forcefully strides forwards, stopping close by her audience as if to confront them. At the same time, a battery of overhead arc lights noisily clang to life and a loud guitar-driven soundtrack invades the space. The shift in intensity is enormous. The space is now completely transformed, both visually and sonically. Wait also appears changed. She looks straight ahead, into the distance. Her body jerks into action. Her legs are still planted solidly on the ground but her arms, head and torso are flung violently in different directions, exploding away from the body’s centre. The bout only lasts a few seconds and stops as abruptly as it started. The dancer returns to staring into the distance. Her expression is stoic, defiant even. It’s as if she is willing her body to be still, but to no avail: it erupts into another burst of out-of-control, short, sharp movement. More outbursts follow, never lasting much longer than the first and always succeeded by a moment of stillness. These function as both moments of respite and preparation for the next body explosion.

From time to time the soundtrack cuts out, only to resume its sonic assault soon after. The pattern of alternating movement bursts and intermittent stillnesses continues, relentlessly. Over time, the movement explosions seem to lose some of their sharpness, Wait’s body softens slightly. Her legs are not rooted in the ground as solidly as before, the knees are sagging, allowing for deep lunges and, at one stage, a roll on the floor. Is this exhaustion taking its toll or has the dancer succumbed to the violent movement attacks, resisting them less? Gradually, she moves backwards, eventually reaching the lamp and sitting next to it—exactly the position in which she began. She turns off the lamp; immediately the arc lights go out. Darkness again.

Untitled, dancer-choreographer Nalina Wait, commissioned by RealTime & Critical Path for the DanceWrite Workshop; The Drill, March 15

© Martin del Amo; for permission to reproduce apply to [email protected]

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