Review: Adam Linder - AUTO FICTO REFLEXO - Lilian Baylis Studio

Performance: 15 - 17 Mar
Reviewed by Lara Hayward - Friday 17 March 2017

Photo: Sarah Bonn

Performance reviewed: 15 March

Adam Linder’s Auto Ficto Reflexo opens with a beguiling Siri-like voice announcing “Level One – Once upon a pre-talk.” We are in a game of six levels, each one reflecting conversations between the bodies of Linder and his fellow dancer/collaborator Justin F. Kennedy, and their dialogue with movement, language, sound and speech. Auto begins with Linder and Kennedy acknowledging each other as the audience acknowledges them. We are also on opposing sides of the white stage floor, bare apart from a smattering of photographic images of ears and trainers. A petrol blue square is set at the centre, which becomes a space for Linder & Kennedy to meet and converse in a number of sequences that we are yet to understand. “Level One” culminates in a high speed, intricate version of paddy-cake, a nod to the childlike game that is at once an instantly recognisable form of communication, a language of movement. It is an intriguing start to Linder’s piece that aims to ‘re-body linguistic conventions’.

The intimacy of the Lilian Baylis studio is used extremely effectively here; the audience is drawn closely into the ‘conversations’ that take place, between the gameplayers and their announcer, between Linder and Kennedy and the unseen player, sound artist Adam Gunther, all combining into a series of deeply interwoven conversations that shift between art, movement, language, sound and light as the work progresses.

Linder and Kennedy’s bodies speak together, even when apart, and the audience must watch and listen. Both enchantingly beautiful, the contrast in their physiques only emphasises the dialogic nature of the piece. Kennedy, exoticly tall and statuesque, all long, precise, limbs that seem to extend further than is humanly possible, is distinct from Linder’s athletic, precisely carved musculature, yet they move in sync with a language known only to each other. There is a section where Linder and Kennedy perform a glide sequence, their feet spinning and flowing as they talk.

The verbal chat seems short and sharp compared to the exemplary fluidity of their smoothly pivoting feet – these things shouldn’t fit together but they do. The purposeful layers of simultaneous conversation continue in each ‘level’. When they appear opposed, their communication retains real intimacy, which perhaps can only come from the strength of collaborators who are really in sync. Linder and Kennedy reveal their linguistic conversation level-by-level (there are 6 in the 50 minute performance), moving around on the floor, on it, and at each other, articulating syllables of hip-hop, ballet, contemporary, improv and audio (speech, music, mime and sound). The work is compelling, arousing and funny.

‘Level 6: Let Em Fly: They’re only syllables’ is the stand-out section. Using the full range of their exquisite movement capability, Linder and Kennedy do let it fly; interspersing fast-paced, exactly executed movement sequences with nods to Israeli dance, classical ballet and more ‘vernacular’ languages (of kickboxing, Beyoncé and glide). I didn’t want it to end.

Of the many intertextual/interdisciplinary references, Level 3’s Baudelaire quote sticks in my mind long after the work is finished: “the best accounts of a picture may be a sonnet.” Used by Linder to explore the relationship that critics have with the art that they analyse and interpret, it gives serious pause for thought: What value do critics add to artistic dialogue?

The attention to detail in Auto is a reflection of Linder’s self-confessed ‘perfectionist’ tendencies. Each element has real meaning. Even the programme notes are integral; highlighting diagrammatic reflections of the conversations that take place on stage. I would need to write a sonnet of Shakespearian proportions to adequately reflect Acto’s masterful structure, syntax and form. Linder’s vision translates into a truly unique work; rich, profound and innovative, intelligently expressed and expertly performed.

Lara Hayward is a freelance dance, sport and travel writer. Find her on Twitter @auspiciouspixie

15 – 17 March 2017
Lillian Baylis Studio
Sadler’s Wells Theatre
Rosebery Avenue
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7863 8000

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