Reviewed by David Walters
In 53 years of creating and attending live performances I can count on one hand the times that I’ve been involved, either as an actor or audience, in a live performance of any kind and walked away saying, “That was live art on stage. That’s what that was.”
I’ve been wowed, entertained, excited, bored, empowered, pleasantly surprised, disappointed, titillated, impressed and shocked, but very few times have I seen what I feel is living art.
Lock ‘em Up! by Dancenoise was art on stage that I can now add to my small handful of memories.
The Whitney Museum of American Art exhibited a Dancenoise retrospective exhibit and performance in July of 2015 and Lock ‘em Up! was Dancenoise’s first full-length presentation since then.
In the nineteen-eighties East Village night-club scene, Anne Iobst and Lucy Sexton (Dancenoise) created live events of defiant disorder mixed with dramaturged political rants, explosions of fake blood (“You can cut off our heads, but you can’t change our minds.”), throbbing dance choreography, pertinent musings on life, and a touch of vaudeville. That 35 years of working together has given them the freedom to strip themselves to the core of who they are, what they believe in and what they have been doing with their lives to get them where they are today.
It doesn’t get any rawer than this. It doesn’t get any more honest than this. It doesn’t get any more shared with love than this.
With a stop the traffic, taking it to the streets performance style (literally), the show began in the lobby of New York Live Arts and chorus-lined out onto 19th Street for a sidewalk/street dance number. Two white foxes, to a trashcan beat, then Pied Pipered the audience into the theater where Anne and Lucy were lounging on lawn chairs musing about Carl (Rock the Turtleneck) Sagan and our stardust existence. They were then joined by dancer/performers Tyler Ashley, Laurie Berg, Heidi Dorow, Connie Fleming, Greta Hartenstein and Madison Krekel to delve into an evening of gun violence, the vagina, fascism, gender parity, death, blood, our current society, form and fashion all mixed together in a smoldering cauldron, put “Under Pressure” with great music and intertwined with mirroring videos by Charles Atlas.
The cauldron’s mixture made me feel human, made me feel the presence of being alive at this time in humanity and an appreciation for all the others on the same life-ride in all their forms. This anniversary performance was life affirming, but not only a celebration of a life of performance, it was a true celebration of life, a celebration of dreaming, a celebration of collective devising and an outpouring of self for 35 years.
May we all be so lucky to have something to say and still be so viable after all that time.
Dancenoise: Lock ‘em Up! was part of the New York Live Arts creative residency program, Live Feed. They presented four performances December 12-15 highlighting their 35 years of working together.
Choreographed and Directed by: Dancenoise: Anne Iobst and Lucy Sexton.
Performed by: Tyler Ashley, Laurie Berg, Heidi Dorow, Connie Fleming, Greta Hartenstein, Anne Iobst, Madison Krekel and Lucy Sexton.
Lighting Design by David Jensen with Tsubasa Kamei. Dramaturgy by Sarah Michelson. Video by Charles Atlas.