A confining corridor of light illuminates Hayford in her search for self. Transfixed, unblinking, her profile surges restrainedly; her soul rippling through the body from the soles of her feet. Stealthily, she stalks the source of light across the stage like a cheetah in the long grass. She is hungry for change. And the hunt will take us through the night.
Hayford’s tense, rounded arms seem to carry the weight of her transformation. Hollow torso-ed, her burdened back pushes to crack the ceiling of limitation. Muscles pop, contract and dilate as though encountering a metamorphosis of their own whilst fingers flicker, tremor and pluck the air as she listens for her internal voice, made external in the echoes of a female call.
At one point, her shadow threatens to consume her before she bursts into full light, circling and cleansing the space – ‘This is it!’
She crosses the threshold into a gentle groove all her own. With wry smile and tender gaze, this first-time soloist completes her first shift with many more shapes to tread.
What does it take to be a shaman of the hip hop generation? With her background in popping Linda Hayford clearly knows how to let an electrifying current go through her body – t-shirt and all. But her first solo Shapeshifting also seems to grow out of a deeper layer of human existence.
Her presence is overpowering, as she walks the thin line of light in the back. Feet firmly planted in the ground, torso convulsing. She seems engulfed by the darkness. Inside.
As a shapeshifter passing through a series of states she is suddenly all hands – squiggling spiders caught in a circle of light – or a taut pillar of muscle being pulled towards the ground. A moaning voice rising from the sea of sound enforces her struggle.
Although she gradually moves more freely in space, expelling the darkness, the transition to a final state of release is unclear. There is more shamanism to be done.