There was a charged energy to the space, even if attendance was sparse in the beginning. The blue stage lights illuminating the studio reminded viewers that despite the casual nature of the show, this was a performance. Small squares of colored construction paper were handed out after each piece to offer the audience an opportunity to provide nonverbal feedback, a welcome format for members that prefer personalized notes to public speaking. People filtered in and out throughout the show, popping beer cans, climbing over seat cushions, making conversation, and simply observing what was in front of them.
Held twice annually, The Deep End is the long form version of the ongoing open mic performance night, Sh*t Gold, which is normally hosted first and third Mondays at Velocity Dance Center. At this marathon edition, participants have up to twenty minutes to showcase their work and works in progress at any stage in any live medium. This particular show featured an eclectic mix of standup, poetry, dance, and music, with performers often combining several elements. This was a place for unfearful experimentation.
One participant comically remarked, “I started working on this project five years ago, and I stopped working on this project five years ago.” This quote seemed to encompass much of what was happening as the night progressed, in the best way possible. Each work had some aspect of risk. A band desired the audience to face away from them and dance throughout the piece, two artists sat in rocking chairs, backs to the audience and rocked to a recording of one of their voices, a trumpet played alongside an eerily recorded version of the same instrument, and some passionate guitar songs were equipped with unpredictable endings. The unpolished disposition of the work leaned into the nonchalant format but also created a performance space that depended less on the expectations of the audience and more on the artists own desires.
The Deep End allowed the intuitions and ideas of the artists to be prioritized over the experience of the viewers. This made for a raw audience experience, which can be appreciated in a field that often values the dance consumer over the maker’s vision. Sh*t Gold is worthy of attendance for this change in priorities. And if you are unimpressed by that, they also have free gummy bears. – Meredith Pellon
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