Noisy by Ame Henderson at TDT

Noisy

Choreographer: Ame Henderson


In Collaboration With: Robin Dann and Matt Smith
 
Performers: Valerie Calam, Alana Elmer, Yuichiro Inoue, Justin de Luna, Pulga Muchochoma, James Phillips and Christianne Ullmark
 
Winchester Street Theatre
80 Winchester Street
 
January 26-28 2017
February 1-4 2017
 
REVIEWED BY TED FOX
 
Noisy begins in darkness with disembodied voices humming, chanting, and making sound effects. We cannot see the dancers moving/walking very slowly until the lighting brightens. Throughout the piece their bodies are never really defined except in brief periods of light. We can barely see their body language which is muted by their own vocal noise. 
 
When the light comes on now and then it jars us with its clarity. Occasionally sudden bursts of light assault us from a light board facing us on the wall behind them. Some in the audience, blinded by it, put their arms over their eyes.
 
The cycles of movement we see are limited, repetitive and not at all what we expect from these skilled dancers. Looking closely I think each performer is taking on another's phrase and movement vocabulary.
 
All this suggests to me a social political context. We barely see if at all individuals as we navigate through urban streets. Occasionally an individual or scene bursts into our vision only to disappear. And always the urban noise.
 
They sing twelve songs. Songs written by singers like Jennifer Castle, The Roches, Nina Simone and The Stylistics, and a few by collaborators Robin Dann and Matt Smith. They sing some songs full or in part. In much the same way that we fully or partially remember lyrics of songs heard over and over.
 
Many of the lyric fragments suggest a malaise within the arts community. A dancer loudly proclaims, "I am a working man," and "I pay the bills," indicating he is a worker not an artist. Another sings about how when he is down he just draws roses on a piece of paper. 
 
The set with one screen over them and two hanging horizontally gives a sense of a minimalist reality show set that the dancers vacate at the end, leaving it empty and brightly lit now that no one is there.
 
An audience member told me he "did not understand a thing." Another found it inaccessible. There were walkouts. A lot had the same reaction.
 
What if he and others voiced their concerns? Then the barriers between audience and performers would have been broken. They would have been part of the piece. The world is a stage in which we all have roles.
 
Noisy is a challenging provocative conceptual performance art performance that has the feel of a task-driven improvisation.