The edge of intimacy: artist and audience share emotions and desires at ACT’s Bullitt Cabaret

The more I watch KT Niehoff’s work, the more I fall in love with it. This weekend I went to ACT Theater to watch the final performance of Glimmer, a project by Niehoff, the Artistic Director of Lingo Dance, to create a more tangible intimacy between dancer and audience.

I was completely blown away by the performance. The venue, dancers, makeup, costumes, movements, lighting, band, music, all elements were a perfect match for each other.

Before the show started, when the band “Ivory in Ice World” was crafting the background music and everyone was enjoying their beers, all dancers were dispersed over the cabaret interacting with the audience members. While I was waiting for my husband to come, one of the showgirl dancers named Ginger – or Lola – (her name changes depending on her mood) stopped by my table and started to chat. “What’s your name?” she asked. I told her my name and she replied, “Beautiful name, but can I call you sweetie?”

As the goal of the project is for “artist and watcher to confront each other” and “exchange their personal histories and desires,” ACT’s Bullitt Cabaret provided the most appropriate space for that interaction. First, there was no geographic distinction between stage and audience. Dancers performed everywhere from the main floor to the stairs; from the balcony to the doorways. Second, there was an actual proximity between the dancers and the audience. It was common to see watchers making way for dancers to pass through.

The show started and it was one surprise after the other. We never knew where the dancers would come from or go to. On top of that, performers would sometimes act, sing, scream or laugh, bringing elements of unexpectedness to the show. The dance moves were not beautiful. Sometimes they were violent, sometimes sexual and sometimes disturbing; however, all movements had a common characteristic: everything evoked proximity and intimacy – both between dancers and the audience and among the dancers themselves.

KT Niehoff surprised me with a beautiful voice. She shared the stage with Ivory Smith and her band, Ivory in Ice World. Niehoff’s high-pitched voice complemented Smith’s deeper tone, and the soprano/contralto duo worked well. The band’s pop sound, combined with sound effects and lighting brought a sense of suspense and intensity to the performance.

Lingo and Ivory in Ice World will be performing Glimmer at ACT’s Bullitt Cabaret Thursdays through Saturdays until May15. This is not a show for kids or people who feel uncomfortable with nudity, but if you are fine with that, I can guarantee: You’ll be blown away.

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