Stella and Ella Brown were more than twin sisters with a shared devotion to their faith. They were also into pantomime; early minimalists, whose interpretation of Perry Como’s laconic “Silent Night” suggests they very well may have been onto something much bigger than they knew, bigger even than the silver, nimbus orbs that crown their heads like angels in a Renaissance painting. These two were imbued with a God-like countenance that hasn’t been observed since Jennifer Jones won the Oscar for Song of Bernadette. So reverent is the twins reverence that I do believe they have brought a heretofore unheard level of contemplative quietude to the old chesnut, which was unquestionably the hit of 1818.
Unfortunately, as we learn during the introduction, one of the twins has passed away. Though this gives added poignance to the deeply felt intention of their artistry, it also forecloses on the further development of whatever we decide this was. Some might call it dance. Some might call it performance art. Some might call it a sleep remedy. Personally, I think it is, in fact, all of these things, for Stella and Ella don’t seem like the types that would push back against any interpretation of their performance. Besides, they can barely raise their arms, so pushing would seem to be quite outside of their skill set. Talent like this simply cannot be put in a box and labelled.
This Christmas, as sensitive types attempt to sleep each night in a state of unease and worry, let’s invite the calming effect of Stella and Ella move toward the sense of harmony, balance, and mindfulness, the unexpected result of their devotional sleep dancing. Has “Silent Night” ever made less noise?