We are hypnotised by the vulnerability of apparent perfection in this cinematic and choreographic sincerity by choreographer Toni Elwin. ‘Adieu’ takes the overseer on a journey with unyielding cracks of painted flesh, caked crevices, flaking with measured movement. A shake of the camera, a blur, mimics the eye searching each detail, previously obscured but now accentuated in beauteous imperfection. We are forced to acknowledge. To see what has been skipped over, of discreet pulsations and quiver of a finger. We are embracing what may repulse and recognising the irony of omnipresent absence. We are given an insight of the personal. Of heavy burdens, ‘filled, covered and overwhelmed with yearning, ignorance, plans, nothing and expectations.’

‘Some of the most terrifying things are those which you have no control over. Some find things in their control to be the most terrifying. Whether this is faith, commitment, making life choices or even the smallest of decisions;’ is the thought process in which ‘Adieu’ arose alongside standing testament to a personal issue. ‘Adieu’ is an echo of the choreographer’s fading relationship with God. Joining a Christian group at university became the pivotal transition, becoming exposed to head strong views that supported with lines from the bible, progressing from extensive debates to conflict. It was the realisation, that no matter how Toni responded, with her own biblical evidence, both sides were ultimately taking what they wished from the bible to support their own argument. There was a filter, a selective acceptance on both sides. It was this experience that prompted Toni to question her own faith, claiming, ‘I suppose I had always naively played a blind eye to the things that contradicted my own faith; questions I didn’t want answered.’ The lyrics of the song, Toni realised, resembled a conversation – or lack thereof- between God and herself. Begging for God to give her something to hold onto came no reply, and consequently felt as though she had been fooled by Him; a previously divine love, so easily taken away. The reality hit some months later, ‘like a bad break up.’ As a way of moving past it, emerged ‘Adieu.’

The varied personalities of each dancer is what brought honesty and identity to the piece. Prior to rehearsal, the choreographer had asked her dancers to interpret printed lyrics of the music so as not to dismiss their meaning. Two different impressions manifested by the lyrics and arrangement of the music respectively. Their personal thoughts on the lyrics became confidential, their connection private, once shared with their choreographer.

Toni is a long time admirer of Dominique Aquino's photography work, particularly her recent film works, 'North East, England' and 'Albay – Philippines.’ Two films which explore Aquino’s attachment to her homeland; via intimate shots of Aquino’s relatives, environment and surrounding people; in comparison to the isolation and unfamiliarity she encountered after migrating to the United Kingdom. It was her poignant investigation of perspectives and musicality which resonated with Toni, in her influence of planning shots for 'Adieu'.

With the privilege of sharing such a poignant piece we recommend updating yourself with future work from Toni Elwin

Feature by Amber Scarlett / amber@thirstforvision.com


SÝN Magazine

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