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March 14-16, 21-23 2008

 Da Contents H2


nalina wait: invisible forces

jodie mcneilly

Nalina Wait Nalina Wait
photo Heidrun Löhr
Nalina Wait’s audible breath in the throes of a final paroxysm is powerful. As the discordant, nervy loudness of a frenetic guitar is silenced by the presence of this laboured breath, a palpable intimacy is felt between the dancer, her audience and the finding of a dance. Wait hardly traverses the massive elongated space of the Drill Hall, but her breath thwarts this notion of visible distance, reminding us of the physical effort in negotiating the topography of an inner landscape. Through means deliberate and considered, Wait’s short work attempts to disclose hidden elements of her self, to herself, in the unpredictability of performance.

In the beginning she sits perpendicular to the floor, delicately composed with legs stretched outwards and torso slightly tilting. Her angle complements that of a standing lamp, its concertina shade slanting on the same vector. The soft rotation of her head leads the torso to hinge from the hips, lightly anchored by her lower body. Wait’s orientation shifts, deepening this hypnotically paced movement. Her feather like extension is paradoxically grounded by the astute instinctiveness of a body that knows its structure.

Night sounds are evoked by a metronomic ticking. The concentrated circle of light from the lamp that balances the contrast between darkness and Wait’s creamy skin is extinguished as the overhead house lights turn on. Their reeling flicker eventually illuminates the room. The recording of an electric guitar played atonally is intermittently switched on and off instigating fitful dance movement and sudden twitches from Wait, punctuating her stillness as she stands in close proximity to her audience.

Moments where Wait is ‘overcome’, by an internal emotional force or an almost Tourette-like disorder, accumulatively intensify. Her first phrase, however, emerges as though her body is undergoing an external attack: the left elbow bends, drawn out of the body; the head strains away, tipping her entirely off centre though still rooted by legs moving in varying configurations of open second. She re-gathers by moving her feet into parallel, her tilted torso negotiating the horizontal, swung out by arms, brought in by a contraction at the centre with a single knee rising into sculpted flexion. Occasional peace in the delirium is also arrived at through bobbing down: upper body meeting lower body, or weaving arms toward her midline to escape peripheral forces.

Towards the end of the guitar track Wait begins to retreat upstage, the self-gathering lessens, the body unravels, yet still teetering on the threshold. She has arrived, for the moment. Her coda is the breath score, a final image: her original position next to the lamp. As the overhead lights and lamp are switched off we are left to feel that there was never to be any resolution, just respite from the sporadic concertina folding and unfolding of internal states. Her ending merely suspends the inquiry.

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

© Jodie McNeilly; for permission to reproduce apply to [email protected]

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