Posted on September 20th, 2015
In a room in a building in Edmonton, Luciana D’Anunciação dances, struts, stretches, and snaps; taps, grinds, pitters, and pats; lolls, breathes, and reaches — but never quite releases; with a microphone and a cord and a speaker. The Sound Between is an improvisational performance stripped down to such an extent it is almost plundered. There is no room for superfluity here, because the elements of sound and noise married to movement and play are wells of perpetual replenishment fecund enough to easily overwhelm.
But within that specificity of sparse elements, like the thin band of a radio signal that transmits the integral sound, entire worlds exist. Worlds of movement and balance so lambent that it is impossible to imagine their interruption by the inevitable spike of violent feedback as the mic slips, slides, pokes, or prods just an iota too close for comfort. So inevitably it squeals and it screams. It howls. Inevitable because she must graze too close to the barrier that permeates the air around the huge, dark, dominating speaker. Inevitable because that barrier must be transgressed. Inevitable because in a moment, or a movement, it hurts so good.
The performance begins before anyone’s quite aware. It has no beginning. The equipment is already on, producing white noise that tickles the ears as observers shuffle to find purchase around the room. Luciana moves with the mic, carving out the safe space around the speaker, pacing that inverted cage like a jaguar.
The sound penetrates every particle of the room. No matter where her physical body is, the body of the performance is in the air, whisper-close despite the volume or the distance. She’s over there and she’s right beside you; she’s moving but also plucking at the neurons and receptors via ear drums, via air in a contiguous interleaving pattern that knows no rhyme and no reason, has no path and no aim, but the movement in and of itself. The performance is made manifest in the entire soundspace, tethered to the movement as the microphone is to the speaker, through the corded body that writhes around the space.
She takes to the ground, and punches, thrusts the microphone at her stalwart duet partner while striking out with the opposite foot in a synesthesiatic spasm where the drum of the speaker rips in a synchronous merge of movement and sound so intense and perfect that I feel it in my spine more than my ears.
Then she does it again.
I almost can’t handle it. Not the noise or the volume, but the vigour and the stunning accuracy of the articulated action-cum-sound. In the snapshot moment she is stretched, balanced on her hip on the floor, her pelvis a pivot for the room to rotate upon and the plaited layers of sound to orbit around.
Just as she seems the source of the variegated, corrugated noise, so too does the microphone become the fount of movement. Not always, and not often, but throughout the many small motions where the microphone is buried in the crook of her elbow or sensuously riding the ridge line of her hoodie’s zipper it is no longer inanimate, but in complete control. A nuzzling cardioid lover pressing its thin metal mesh into Luciana’s sensitive flesh, the mic exhibits a slithering, burrowing need. It emits a muffled burlesque chew, a soft and tawny murmur, a deep and throaty trill heard from a half a block away.
Then it’s just a microphone, tapping against her head, no longer a living being, merely a tool again. She cups it in both hands, fluttering her fingers like startled butterfly wings each time the microphone trips the invisible line and the speaker shrieks it’s electric lament. She tosses out the sound, and it’s gone.
She shifts, onto her back, a sinuous display where the microphone, so dangerously gentle, holds a constant distance from its mate. The sound is of cicadas, an insect murmur safe and reassuring amongst the constant threat of sonic eruption.
One after another she poses, she plays. A survey of the corner, a moment sitting with the crowd, a soft embrace of lips, a breath, a chuckle. These sudden, deflating shifts are jarring. They remove the extension from movement to climax, and instead tease the audience with continual approach. The chance for resolution collapses, and with it all narrative momentum.
When it’s over, I barely realize, as the echoes still ring in my ears.
But she’s gone.