performed by Elinor Lewis with Nuria Legarda Andueza
The beauty of presenting dance in gallery spaces is that movement adds a new layer to its pre-existing surroundings. With this in mind, Orchard is a difficult piece to key into, as it only relates to its own, newly erected staging, rather than its context.
Amidst a mathematical grid of cardboard tubes, Elinor Lewis and Nuria Legarda Andueza stand nonchalantly in jumpsuits and black bobbed wigs. Navigating their environment methodically, almost robotically, their slow movements make us wonder whether Orchard could be more successful as a durational work to be encountered, rather than endured.
The pace accelerates. The dancers weave in and out of the tubes swiftly, and gasps are heard in the audience each time there is danger of the them knocking over the cardboard forest they inhabit. Anticipation of destruction ripples through the crowd. The question we're left asking is, does the climax warrant all that tension-building?
In Elinor Lewis’s ‘Orchard’ we encounter a subtle, minimalist environment. Both the linen costumes and the cardboard set are beige and soothing. Entering the gallery space, we see two twin females (Lewis and Nuria Legarda Andueza) in black bob wigs and red lipstick.
They stand still and barefoot, surrounded by silence and 90 slim poles of around 1,5 meters, neatly but precariously arranged at slight distances; as we will soon realise, these objects could tip over at the tiniest move. Slowly and carefully the dancers slide between them, imperceptibly shifting positions. Meeting in the middle, their movement gradually accelerates. Like organisms sensing risk in a vulnerable habitat, they efficiently evade the poles, but as their tempo increases the stakes rise higher. Transitioning on both vertical and horizontal planes, the women eventually become part of their explored territory. Extremely focused and well-synchronised, this duo balances corporeal awareness with sheer interest in motion.
A zen garden of tall carton cylinders - tens of them, and shoulder-high – are placed vertically and symmetrically across a vestibule of the MAC VAL museum in Vitry. Impressive in their fragile balance, they have a soothing impact on the gathered spectators, while a distant rumour of voices from other gallery spaces enhances the quietness in this particular here and now. The same quietness is embodied by the performers, Elinor Lewis and Nuria Legarda Andueza. Any hunger for narrative is hushed by their insipid brown jumpsuits topped with black wigs and neutral facial expression. They gently simmer their way through the carton reeds, only to gradually quicken their pace, tracing a rustle in the absent leaves until, inevitably... a cylinder falls! And shortly thereafter another, and then some more.
A minimalist installation, Orchard makes depth visible and eases those who are willing into a state of equally deep reflection about speed, the frailty of our choices and the unforeseen implications of their consequences.
Precarious but stylish minimalism is a key trait of Orchard, a collaboration between Elinor Lewis and Nuria Legarda Andueza that constituted the first of a pair of Spring Forward presentations in the Mac Val galleries. Identically clad in bobbed brunette wigs and beige onesies, po-faced yet tense, the two barefoot doppelgangers shift with concentrated deliberation amidst a mathematically careful arrangement of slim, tall cardboard poster tubes. When the pace quickens during a waddling unison walk something like disaster strikes: first one, then another, tube clatters to the floor. Succumbing to gravity themselves, the pair rest restlessly until, alas, more tubes fall fast. It’s the quasi-dramatic conclusion of a neat, handsome twenty-minute performance-installation that doesn’t wear out its initial welcome. Nor, wisely, do its onstage creators over-exploit its built-in anxiety factor. Still, a cavil: in the absence of any aftermath, Orchard left relatively scant metaphorical residue.