Review: performance

"Frozen White"
Stan Wijnans
Institute of Contemporary Arts – London

Developed and directed by the Dutch sonic artist, Stan Wijnans, “Frozen White” takes its inspiration from the strange neurological phenomenon described by Dr Oliver Sacks in “Awakenings” - the “sleeping sickness” which struck a large number of people in the 1920s, leaving them in frozen states for several decades in hospitals throughout Europe and the US.

Presented by London Musicians Collective, “Frozen White” is a technically elaborate mixed media performance which addresses “states of being and becoming” - and speculates on what might happen if patients in medical institutions were suddenly able to control a liberating technology.

The dancers emerged - against a powerful video backdrop of huge, desolate, ice floes thawing and cracking open - from comatose rigidity into a state of utter abandon. Their dramatic ascent into consciousness was both uncanny and ecstatic – and their portrayal of the effect of an increasingly assured grip on the mechanisms of control offered a fascinating study of empowerment.



Julia Clarke and Charlotte Darbyshire gave an electrifying performance of their choreography, and their movements in the ultrasonic beams of four Soundbeam sensors were used imaginatively to modify and colour the live music improvised by Rhodri Davies (harp), Steve Noble (percussion) and Gail Brand (trombone) – who were constantly adapting their playing to the changes being made in their sounds.

An exciting and innovative performance, and a very welcome development in the use of Soundbeam in dance theatre.