4 Min Read

Bobby Russell has a New Way of Moving

WALK is an immersive dance theatre work, a collaboration between lighting, sound, sculptural design, and choreography, and promises to “transform The Blue Room into a dreamscape.”

Four weeks ahead of opening night I chatted to lead creative and performer, Bobby Russell, to find out what to expect.

The show originated in The Blue Room’s Movemovemove event a year ago, where Bobby’s The Walk was one of three site-specific dance installations, capped at fifteen minutes or so. Building on that, WALK is a prequel of sorts, an origin story, bringing back old characters and introducing new ones.

Bobby likens the show to the Pixar movie Wall-E, in the way that the robot has no dialogue but still manages to convey emotions, intentions, and a story. They describe the story as an exploration of how we as people can go through times where we feel like we’ve fallen straight to the bottom, but we’re the only ones that can pick ourselves back up again, dust ourselves off and keep going. It is “surrealist but also very glittery.” Having seen the promo shots no one can deny the adjective ‘glittery’ for visual artist and sculptor Opie Robinson’s fabulous costume design.

“They’re on the team as a set designer and costume designer. We’ve been working side by side creating textural and dynamic shapes that, with a bit of imagination and lighting from Joe Lui, morph and turn into breathing characters. We’ve been playing with found objects and how we can morph them together to create these new beings.”

Photography by Nicolee Fox

From the photos these beings seem to have large shiny wings and long appendages, so I had to ask about the restrictions on performing a dance piece in such elaborate costumes.

“We’ve worked together on the costuming, it does create these, I suppose, parameters or rules. But it also influences how I move, which I think is really exciting. Working with Opie and their expertise and their craft, it’s helping me find new ways of movement. I think together it’s like we’re navigating these new shapes, new ways of moving. And that’s really exciting. It’s been a really interesting journey and a learning experience for me on how to create new choreography.”

Audience members will get to see these costumes close-up as the show is immersive, leaving room for potential interaction. Bobby says one of their favourite things to do is connect with people and feel their energy, and allow that to influence their performance. This is a shared experience. Not to scare off any potential audience members with a mortal fear of audience interaction, though, as this is a choose-your-level scenario.

‘It’s about them having a choice on where they want to sit. So they can actually sit within the set design, and be a bit more a part of the show as far as having an invitation to interact with characters, or they can just sit in the design and experience this tangible textural feel, whilst watching the show. I wanted to bring the audience in and have them central in the experience with the characters. With permission, obviously.”

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Photography by Nicolee Fox

Dance is central to the piece as, with no dialogue, movement is the nuance through which the story is told. The journey becomes something personal that we can all sit in and relate to in our own way. But Bobby assures me this is not just a show for established fans of contemporary dance. There is something in it for everybody.

“Honestly, it’s a pretty polarizing show. A bit dark and surrealist, and cinematic at times, but then it’s also really a glittering music video, it’s got a bit of everything. Hopefully that brings people in for a bit of winter theatre.”

I know I’m hooked.

WALK runs from the 14th to the 30th July at The Blue Room Theatre.