The Black Piece dances in the dark—quite literally
FJanet Smith or years, maverick Dutchflemish dance artist Ann Van den Broek had been drawn to the colour black. She’s been fascinated with both the negativity and positivity associated with it through history—from the Black Plague through to its status as a good omen in ancient Egypt, and from the danger of film noir to the seductive power of the little black cocktail dress in modern times. As she started to create her hit dance work The Black Piece, she also felt inextricably drawn to the dark.
“In the dark you can feel fear, because there are people and things around you that you cannot see,” she tells the Straight from Gaspé, Quebec, where her Rotterdam-andantwerp–based company Ward/ ward is on a tour stop. “But also you can do things that nobody can see, and there’s almost comfort in that.”
And so, inevitably, she hit the light switch in her dance studio and started to work with her performers in the pitch black to see what would happen.
“They were trying to improvise and feeling each other or feeling the wall, and immediately it felt like magic,” she relates. “All your senses have to be so enlarged—you’re really working with touch and your ears because you cannot see.”
But what most shaped The Black Piece was adding roving light back into the work. In the production, Van den Broek herself stalks the stage with a flashlight, illuminating her moving dancers throughout the night, while cameraman Thorsten Alofs also turns his lens on the action, projecting it live on a screen.