In Review: Dearest Home by Kyle Abraham (No Headphones)

Part I: Kyle Abraham with no Headphones by Elana Sasson ’18

Every move is heard clearly, goes unchallenged. I can hear the dancers breath, and often found myself holding my own in order to hear the smallest intonations in their movements, the rustle of their clothing, their feet dragging on the floor, their small sighs. The dancers themselves are without music. Though several audience members are hearing a soundtrack, I feel closer to those I am watching because my auditory experience is similar to theirs.

This performance centers around relationships, with the self and others, and the vulnerability that comes with these types of relationships. Abraham cleverly plays with the use of clothing as a shield or as uniform for performance, and lighting, dimness and brightness to expose, conceal, and manipulate sense of space. Often, the bright white floor and bright white light creates a sterile effect, with dancers clad in trousers and floral prints moving on opposite sides of the room, sometimes in sync, sometimes in delayed synchronicity, and other times completely independent. It was often made unclear the relationships between the dancers, and their movements often transcended societal gender roles, shifting between lovers and friends, female and male, confident and uncertain.

The apex of my sound/soundless experience was near the end of the show, when in blinding white light, an underwear clad dancer stood in the center of the floor, keeled over, holding himself, and sobbing. This sound, this lonely grief, followed him as he left the stage and continued in his absence.

Part II: Kyle Abraham with Headphones on by Miller Klitsner ’18

Dearest Home floats down a narrowing tunnel of intimacy. Entering smaller and smaller circles, drawn into the center of the slowly darkening stage.

Having the accompaniment separated from the performance – coming from my individual set of earphones- incorporated me into this slow exposure of intimacies.

I was listening independently. The dancers didn’t even know the music I was listening to, nor did most of the audience. While I was experiencing the same performance with the group, watching the dancers spiral further and further into a soft pit of their inner, exposed selves, I felt that I too was observing from a distance. I was wrapped in my own world, had my own intimacy with the music apart from the performance.

Lighting – another crucial and well designed aspect of the performance. Shadows were acutely thought out and accounted for, used to reflect a part of the different selves as they bounced around the room or stood solidly next to or even straddled by the dancers.