• Talent  Adam Linder
  • Photography  Henry Gorse
  • Words  Anna Sanders

Movement is a primal, instinctive language. One inherent, not learnt. Where words fail us, we have movement: we express ourselves through the physical, read into the mannerisms of others, and are drawn to the ethereal, emotive art of performance.

Choreographer and dancer Adam Linder has a preoccupation with linguistics in the context of movement; he uses varied means of communication – sound effects and semantics of speech, kinesics and experimental dance – within his celebrated oeuvre, that explores the tension between verbal and non-verbal communication.

The architecture of his work is an enchanting miscellany of classical training and the expression of conceptual ideas. The nuances of life are woven into his choreography, and through his undulating explorations of where movement and sound meet, the everyday becomes art. Known movements are made alien through expressive, exaggerated routines, childhood games of pat-a-cake become stylised performance pieces, and the hierarchy of dance mediums become fractured.

Prior to Linder’s performance piece, AUTO FICTO REFLEXO, currently showing at Sadler’s Wells, we met with the choreographer and dancer during rehearsals to discuss the nuances of his work, the subtleties of language, and the narrative of the two.

“I do not find verbal or written language restrictive per se, though I find the expectations for usage and formulation sometimes to be restrictive,” Adam explains of the duality of his work. “And because of this, when you find some space to bend these conditions it can be really gratifying in its playful nuance. That’s where the space of dance and its fluidity of signification comes in handy.”

Working with co-choreographer Justin Kennedy and music producer Adam Gunther, AUTO FICTO REFLEXO is a duet, over-laid with narrative, music, and effects that both inform and are informed by the performance on stage, an on-going conversation between sound and shape. 

“I propose particular ideas and then Kennedy and Gunther react to them,” Adam remarks of their creative collaboration. “They might counter these ideas and that in turn propels new ideas and on and on. Though it’s my responsibility to always keep the thing rolling and to keep investing the process with kernels of inspiration, alongside keeping a wider overview on the construction and dramaturgy of the piece as a whole.”

“Most of my works operate on several levels.” Linder remarks, “They tend to be quite dense with signs and annotations or comments. I believe that viewers can watch, receive or read the work in various ways depending on who they are. First and foremost, I do intend for it to be an arresting visual experience.” And on the relevance of referencing scenes as levels, Adam explains, “it is the nuance of bending some of the restrictions of language that I find playful. In the case of AUTO FICTO REFLEXO I really wanted to articulate this as gameplay.”

During rehearsal, their warm-up is sliding in trainers – smoothly, rubber squeaking, in long leg shadows. On the outskirts they stretch and sway, bodies bending and pulsating in soft static, the ethereal sounds within this white noise like a primal, far-away call – a song, a clanging, a shriek.

Adam and Justin move the air as though controlling the unearthly distant sound in the space – or searching for its source. Soft movements, slow and intense, are interrupted by a voice, one that will index events throughout, announcing levels, and adding layers of meaning to the performance. In Level 3 it instructs as hips sway and pop, as arms loop and thrust, and bodies relent to music: instinctively, obediently. Muscles judder to monologue as light flickers to sound. Colour and lyrics are translated by the body into movement, the dancers lost in music within this dreamlike, sensual scene. Stillness and syllables disrupt the trance.

“Ferr-num whhhhy”

Justin chants, and words feel irrelevant. Their meaning is not what they mean: the way they sound, how they feel in the mouth, inspires new relevance. Meaning is inflexion, the movement it inspires.

And Adam flows, in body and mind and voice. Carving through the space with limbs and language.

AUTO FICTO REFLEXO showing at Sadler’s Wells 15th – 17th March, 2017