At the Toneelschuur, Haarlem 29th January 2019

Imagine walking in on a performance that has already started, and leaving when it’s still going on — but you are not doing anything wrong, simply following the instructions. You cannot applaud at the start, nor when it finishes; as there is no beginning and no end.

Arno Schuitemaker’s dance performance allows you to experience one cycle out of a possibly infinite amount of cycles of The Way You Sound Tonight. A regenerative expansion, as he calls it, of space, breath and heartbeat, accompanied by repetitive, growing sound slowly morphing into music.

Entering the theatre filled with deep pulsating bass sounds reminiscent of a very slow rave party (or a beating heart perhaps), the audience is sat on two sides of the dance floor, entrapping the stage and later on the dancers between them. Encompassed in this deep sound-music produced by award-winning composer Aart Strootman, the performance starts to develop. One dancer, present on the stage from previous performance, moves in the hypnotising rhythm of the bass, and continues to do so, adding more and more gradual movement for about quarter of an hour. He is then joined, again gradually, by 4 more dancers slowly appearing from the corners of the space.

Seemingly random patterns of movement, focused on elbows, hands and chest, suddenly meet and synchronise in the climax of the show, successfully manifested in strong yet soft golden lights coming from the sides, designed by lighting designer Jean Kalman. Additionally, the background behind the audience opposite you gradually gains colour, creating a special atmosphere mixed with layered, vibrantly pulsating music.

As slowly as the dancers appeared on the stage, they also patiently leave it, and the music returns towards the beginning pulsating bass sounds. Only one dancer is left (different one than the one at the ‘beginning’), who returns to the same hypnotising moves in the rhythm of the bass as you experienced when you walked in. The sound continues, the dancer persists and you have a train to catch, so you join a group of brave people that first leave the theatre. One brave soul starts applauding, but no one joins in. The energy cannot be released by clapping — there is no way to thank the author or the durable dancers, so you leave all of it behind, trapped in the bubble of a hypnotic continuum.   Eva Tisnikar    30th January 2019

Photo credit – Sanne Peper

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