The Wapping Project Double Bill online
Luca Silvestrini, artistic director and founder of the Protein Dance Company, is known for creating performances inspired by social life and day-to-day experiences. This year, he launched the Protein 21 Remix, a programme that has digitally released some of the most successful past shows presented by the troupe. Celebrating his long collaboration with the late Jules Wright, founder and director of The Wapping Project, Silvestrini’s latest addition to this online series is the Ride (2008) and Stairworks (2001) double bill.
Performed at the Wapping Hydraulic Power Station, the former home of the company, the two pieces are social commentaries that draw attention to the raw feelings behind the external layers of routine events. Ride is a duet performed by Charlotte Broom and Omar Gordon, inspired by the idea of the “Season”, or the elite’s social summer programme of races, balls, regattas and so on. The work focuses specifically on Ascot. It depicts an elegant lady in red (an upper-class attendee) and a jockey meeting and connecting through motion. In Stairworks, the space is converted into a restaurant filled with a dining audience. When a news report comes in, it sets off a dance performed by men donning white bath towels. The choreography, which features Silvestrini himself, takes place on outdoor staircases that can be seen through windows and doors and is accompanied by classical music.
While the performers are excellent and their movement is fun and dynamic, the very nature of these pieces means that they rely heavily on the energy provided by a live audience. Ride has a small number of spectators standing around the dancers in a circle who no doubt feel the sense of intimacy created by the work, and perhaps are even swept away by the dramatic escalation that takes the performers from formality and decorum to unrestrained passion. Stairworks offers more visually: some passages seem like animated Baroque paintings, and Vivaldi’s music certainly adds to the pathos. For years after its premiere, the filmed version of this show was screened at The Wapping Project’s building. One still feels, however, that its power is somewhat diminished through a screen.
While it is not an engulfing experience in this format, this double bill is nevertheless a great introduction to the company and its singular style.
The Wapping Project Double Bill is available online from 20th November until 29th November 2020. For further information or to book visit the dance company’s website here.