In The Quiet Dance the pair, identically dressed and identically bald like McDougall's pastry men, take the notion of "steps" very literally indeed. Their duet consists entirely of flat-footed walks, sometimes of eight steps, sometimes nine or 10, each phrase executed with an increasing stoop as if descending a flight of stairs. While one man moves, the other vocalises a noise - a single "ahhhhh" or "shhhhh" - with a mechanical precision that makes it seem as if it's the noise that's generating the movement. Restricted to this narrow palette, it's interesting to notice how one's own focus sharpens up. New tics woven into the fabric arrive with the force of a steam train, and one is constantly alert for clues in the hope of finding a key to the pattern. Bursts of recorded bird song hint at theme-and-variation in the natural world, but you can never quite nail what's going on.
For all its conceptual neatness, this would be as much fun as watching grass grow if it weren't for the comic humility of Burrows and Fargion and their gnomic dedication. The dogged repetition soon becomes funny because it's so absurd. Is it possible for minimal to be any more minimal before it disappears? The final joke sees the pair stand still and silently nod to the spaces where the steps would be.Reuse content