Charles Linehan’s duet The Way Station, danced by regular collaborators Greig Cooke and Rahel Vonmoos, features muted ambient lighting, everyday clothes and a moody score. The musicians enter first. The subtle shifts of sound (plucky rhythms, bell chimes, airy gusts) and of light (from green to red to white) form frameworks. Vonmoos strides repeatedly towards Cooke, hooks her arms over his head, drops and ducks behind his windmilling limbs. It is the closest they ever come to direct contact. Cooke kneels behind Vonmoos, tugging and blocking her limbs. The overall impression is of two fundamentally isolated people whose undemonstrative lives happen to cross at certain junctures.
Linehan is often interested in probing the texture of ordinariness – the unspoken feelings, the half-concealed gestures of hidden inner lives. But in The Way Station he is too reticent. Happy Days, a trio first made in 2005, also uses suggestive lighting (again by Tinapp), everyday clothing and looped, hypnotic sounds; but it is more sharply defined. Jim O’Rourke’s opening music – a sparse octave motif that grows louder and more dense – has both drive and direction. The contrasting closing sounds have a clear emotive effect, making the dancers (Vonmoos, Cooke, and newcomer Antonia Grove) appear to be reliving a scene from the past. And the choreography itself has a greater range and attack. Now, the slicing limbs, the drops, swivels and dips have a more dramatic undertow: the dancers seem to be following, escaping and avoiding each other through the sliding doors of their arms, the ever-changing walls and windows created by their bodies.