Stephanie Hallett
August 04, 2017 6:33 am
HelloGiggles/Stephanie Hallett

It was 50 minutes of raw humanity, spanning the full emotional range from fear to pure childlike delight. Held in a massive warehouse east of downtown Los Angeles, “After,” the latest work from Solange Knowles’ favorite dance company, No)one. Art House, explored the ideas of defilement and the pristine. And though the warehouse space spanned three acres, the companies’ seven dancers managed to fill it with unceasing energy.

Once a bakery then later an import-export warehouse, the space was occupied for more than four months this year by British-born, Hong Kong-based artist Simon Birch and 20 other artists, who took each massive, sprawling room and turned it into an unparalleled sensory experience. The result was 14th Factory, a multimedia, multi-room art and documentary project.

For 14th Factory’s final night on July 29th, Birch teamed up with No)one. Art House’s curator and co-founder, Chris Bordenave, to produce an immersive dance theatre experience that moved throughout the warehouse/art project and deepened the audience’s experience of the installations in which the dancers were performing.

Entering the exhibition/performance space, the show’s more than 200 patrons were greeted by near-pitch darkness and suffocating heat, throwing visitors headlong into the multi-sensory experience to come. Down a dark hallway, a video projection provided the only constant light in the room, while a group of dancers against a wall counted endlessly from one to seven and flicked small flashlights on and off as they spoke. In that space, the rise of painful memories was inevitable — there’s nothing like a hot, dark room and droning voices to drum up deep-rooted fears.

Next, though, visitors were offered some relief, traveling through a hallway and emerging into a bright, cool room with a grassy knoll and swing set at its center. There, the dancers seemed to move and play more freely, soothing some of the fears that had arisen in the earlier darkness.

HelloGiggles/Stephanie Hallett

But not for long: Next up was a dark room where videos of men’s topless bodies in conflict — bloody and fighting in slow motion — were projected on all sides.

In an interview with HelloGiggles, Bordenave explained why he decided to take his audience on such a wild emotional journey.

HelloGiggles/Stephanie Hallett

The performance moved from room to room in the gallery, each dance piece reflecting the installation around it. And as always with No)one. Art House’s immersive works, audience members were invited to participate in co-creating the show, sometimes shining light on dancers in dark rooms, or playing a game with the dancers that involved learning and recalling simple movements.

HelloGiggles/Stephanie Hallett

Finally, dancers and audience members emerged together into the outdoors, where all were met by a water-based art installation and a singer with twinkly lights in her hair, singing and purring into a microphone that heavily altered her voice.

HelloGiggles/Stephanie Hallett

The dancers slowly stripped to their undergarments, then stepped into the installation for their final number, reminiscent of Beyoncé’s live performances of “Freedom” in which she and her dancers move, unshackled and wild, through a shallow pool of water.

What a night.

Learn more about No)one. Art House here, and look out for the company’s next performances at Hauser & Wirth in L.A.’s Arts District and at Solange Knowles’ Saint Heron House in New Orleans in the fall.