OnlineReview

Alex – Swindon Dance

Reviewer: Dominic Corr

 Creators : Caldonia Walton and Kathy Richardson

Decades. Centuries. A Millennia of scholars, scientific endeavour, and academic study – and still, the exploration of mental, emotional, and physical ‘weight’ we carry within our thoughts, a bellowing internal spectral voice on our bodily autonomy, is still something we cannot fully fathom.

An original story created by Caldonia Walton and Kathy Richardson from personal experiences and research with young people in youth groups and hospitals, Alex Weight/Wait is an interactive digital piece of movement, principally designed for early to late teenagers to explore and understand elements of mental health to better comprehend and potentially control their anxieties, stresses, and inner voices.

Weight/Wait is more than cinematic choreography; it opens up conservation on mental health, utilising raw and accessible forms of communication for all. And though we may hear the stories of three individuals trialling their own practises to grapple with their anxieties and exertions, Alex’s reformation and venture into counselling is the central focus. Overwhelmed, drowning, and keeping their head barely above the precipice, Alex’s inner voice is undoubtedly an integral component, evident by the intimacy of Walton and Richardson’s movement, to an extent that solo performances and detachments come over as uneasy.

Caldonia and Richardson’s choreography precisely offers the combination of movement, control and breathing one would expect, in this case expanding beyond and into the performance elements of theatre. The uniqueness and respect for the body’s limitless possibilities prove themselves invaluable as the pair contort and channel their form into storytelling elements, telling the story of the immense weight behind Alex’s thoughts and anxieties – expressing the distress, tensity and even comedy of the story through quieter moments of reflective breathing.

Not all quiet, Alex Paton’s music composition complements the elements well, from the more intimate moments to the lighter sequences as Richardson, Sanea Singh and Chris Radford, all immerse themselves in their initial counselling sessions. At first unfamiliar, even doubtful of the process, the eventual reliance, even crutch of the session, becomes too much for Alex when ‘time’s up’.

A black dog, a rain cloud, a creature in the corner, a friend. Yes, a friend. Sometimes the exploration of our mental state can find that the very thing we’ve been fighting is a part of us – a weighted part, and though it may appear familiar and comforting, it isn’t always healthy. Gracefully tactful, the empathetic writing forms the foundations with which the choreography can stir up emotion, lifting the poetic words of Walton, Richardson and poetry writer Ryan Dre Sinclair from the ashes and into something tangible. The film’s editing enables a more intimate nature, Barney White/Quiet Eye Film capturing an intensity throughout the piece through dynamic angles, slowed frames enabling audiences to spectate movement in ways rarely demonstrated.

Catharsis is a rare insight. Often, intensity and raw emotion channel a discomfort for audiences, something appreciated but perhaps uneasy to digest. Weight/Wait takes a substantially different stance: Its flow and storytelling craft something fulfilling as a stand-alone narrative piece, but its brief interactivity and intensity of movement channels a profoundly personal understanding.

 Alex is available here until 31 March 2022

The Reviews Hub Score

Cathartic & accessible

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The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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