Outside the performance space we are gathered, organized in rows, given glow sticks to wear around our necks (our emergency escape tool for ‘just in case’) and led into an internal space within the studio theatre – a space of darkness. Stepping towards the dark, hand touching the shoulder of the one in front, senses firing up. Giant illuminated hands guide each of us to touch a rope which too is illuminated. And swiftly it seems I have lost sight of what is in front, am propelled along this rope – all there is to hold to in an enveloping darkness. Then again the hovering illuminated hands – indicating where I can sit in the blackness. And I am alone – though I know the space holds many people – entered into a world of sensing: dark and light, silence and sound, language’s sense and non-sense: the materials of a moving choreography.
And it is moving in a double sense: there is movement – of light, of sound, of objects, of language, of body (not a lot); and the work creeps up on you with an affective force – it’s (oddly) moving. This movement of feeling is perhaps, in part, a consequence of the sense of aloneness and hyper-sensing evoked by the initial submersion in darkness – a submersion from which a kind of opening is generated, a kind of intimacy, to one’s own sensing: the sound of “I, I, I” – or is it “AYAYAY”?; a drone sound creeping in, growing, reverberating – around me, below me, in me; the darkness that I want to close my eyes to – but fear missing what is to be seen …
Flashes of light – red and later green; more light offering glimpses of a figure – remote – a ghostly spectre; more language emanating from this figure, as if stuttering for sense, a sounding-language-game that’s moving backward and forward from letter to letter, sound to sound. A few short sentences punctuate the course of the performance, leaking out of the sounding game, making sense momentarily, before the momentum of the game again submerges sense in sound. Or words are cut off abruptly. Left hanging. In silence.
Movements of light gradually illuminates (more of) the figure, statue-like, draped, journeying (carrying a rucksack!). More light and the figure becomes an emanation of light (sort of) echoing the light-emanating curving structures that are announcing themselves above our heads. The sound of water: an avalanche of water, a catastrophe on the earth, a drip. A star woman intoning: a question, a statement, a celestial song (being mixed by the invisible technical hand and ear of Robbie Thomson). She’s throwing stars to the heavens, evoking quiet laughter from the onlookers, reminding us that we too are stardust.
Inspired by Ultimate Dancer’s immersion in a five day retreat deprived of both light and sound YAYAYA AYAYAY is performance that’s visual, sonic, kinetic. It’s a choreography of sensation. Of vibration. Of sound. Of light. Of dark. It’s all material. And all laced up with a muted humour.
Review of performance at Tramway DIG 7th May 2017
Choreography/Performance: Ultimate Dancer
Sound/Light: Robbie Thomson