Stephanie Hallett
February 08, 2017 12:57 pm
Courtesy No)one. Art House

In an incense-scented warehouse in Los Angeles’ historic West Adams neighborhood, Solange Knowles’ favorite contemporary dance company, No)one. Art House, came to life this weekend. For three nights, the group drew audiences into an immersive dance theater experience — in partnership with Solange’s Saint Heron art collective — and brought its visceral, evocative work to sold-out crowds in South L.A.

Solange first fell in love with the company in June 2016 after seeing one of its performances. Then, a month later, Saint Heron reached out to No)one. asking to remount the show together. The result was this weekend’s L.A. performance, and it was a truly transformative delight.

The experience began outside of Parish, an artists’ loft space in L.A., in a tightly packed brick corridor lit by strings of twinkly lights. Waiting to enter the venue, dancer and company co-founder Chris Bordenave appeared in the crowd, moving with purpose and making eye contact with audience members before taking the hand of a female spectator and guiding her toward the building’s entrance.

Once inside, crowds gathered on both levels of the loft and filled its staircase, sitting, standing, and crouching in every nook to get a view of the four dancers moving through the space.

The one-hour work followed the dancers on a journey through introspection and catharsis, at times tense and full of conflict, at others providing blissful release. Unlike most dance shows, No)one.’s dancers engaged physically with the audience, moving them through the warehouse space and even dancing with certain individuals.

“Often dance has a habit of isolating people,” Bordenave tells HelloGiggles, “so we felt bringing the work closer to the audience and actually interacting with them would connect them to our experience further.”

And connect it did. The intimate experience of being so close to the dancers’ extraordinary strength and physicality was unparalleled, like being on the mat as an Olympic gymnast leaps, turns, and tumbles her way to the top of the podium.

“People have come to us crying saying they have never experienced anything like they saw before,” says Bordenave.

What’s perhaps even more exceptional about No)one. Art House is that it’s among the only black-run contemporary dance companies in the nation, a fact not lost on its co-founder.

As Bordenave wrote on Instagram,

From glitter showers to video projections to a soundtrack so varied it featured both the Lady and the Tramp love song “Bella Notte” and the voice of a horse race announcer, No)one. Art House’s immersive experience was bold and risk-taking — exactly the kind of energy we need in the world right now. No wonder Solange loves these dancers.

Learn more about the company here and catch its next show in the fall.