Body Acousmonium – a powerful and touching performance
Created by Slow Twitch Collective, Body Acousmonium is an innovative, 55-minute work making its debut at the 2019 ‘Melbourne Fringe Festival’. Aiming to provoke thoughts amongst audience members in relation to sound and its presence in space, the work consists of two performers fulfilling the role of artists as they express a story of personal interpretation through the simultaneous inclusion of electronic media (sound/lighting) and movement.
Little background is initially provided; this powerful and touching work of ‘the arts’ begins with the two performers seated perfectly still and silent, except for their purposeful heavy breaths. This dramatic opening establishes the tone for the audience who remain silent throughout, in awe of the performance evolving just a few meters in front of them.
Musically, Body Acousmonium is controlled live by one of the two artists, with sound stemming from different corners of the room at varying times. The sounds and musical elements utilised hold variation within tone, rhythm and volume, keeping the audience engaged and awaiting the next burst of ‘natural’ sound, consisting of limited vocabulary. Along with these captivating sound choices, silence was deeply embedded in the performance with nothing but movement to captivate attention. These moments evoke chills in the audience as they watch, hypnotised by the talent before them.
In conjunction with the static, and natural sounds of music, the electrical inclusion of lighting helps to express the relation between music and movement placed on an equal scale. Dim light links to a slow tempo, and vice-versa with the development of a quick tempo. The inclusion of spotlights drew attention to the performers, with black-outs helping them achieve their aim of provoking thoughts and wonder.
In terms of movement, the audience is taken back to the base of contemporary expression, so challenging modern expectations of dance. The choreographed routine loses its feel of pre-performance preparation as the dancer seamlessly ripples through movements, leading with different body parts and increasing dimension with sound. Directional and multi-focal, this piece of work is generally expressionless, aside from sparse moments of humour, which serves to draw the audiences’ attention to the grounded and manipulated elements of ballet technique. Abstract movement phrases are expressed, taking simple movements and turning them into intricate gestures, repeated in numerous ways. A sense of rebound is felt as the dancer contracts and releases her body in time with musical increase and strobe lights. The variations between time, space, and energy of movements are not just seen by the audience, but felt through the human connection between the two performers, and the indescribable atmosphere in the small space.
Through the juxtaposition of stillness and silence, partner and individual work, Slow Twitch Collective present a discovery of sound through movement in a way that reaches the audience on a spiritual level. The effort to provide a safe, tightly knit space in Melbourne’s Trades Hall with multiple moments of audience inclusion through sound and movement is recognised at the conclusion of the show by an obvious silence before the applause as everyone tries to find words to describe this experience. Significant impact is felt, the performance causing people to feel both amazed and connected. The passion of the dedicated performers expresses the view that they truly were performing without anyone watching, however the flawlessness and success of the work proves otherwise.
People with appreciation of the performing arts are left with an indescribable feeling. The final moment, where the majority of the audience is seated silently on the floor with the performers, is the most powerful element, embedding the feelings that everyone experienced from the first breath to the last movement.
Overall Slow Twitch Collective presented a work of pure art, causing chills amongst the audience as they watched the teamwork of the two female performers in awe, unpicking each element of sound against movement and experiencing the importance of this balance/discovery in performance.