If you thought that headline was used purely for shock value, think again: it’s actually a rather concise description of Balletlab’s latest double bill, And All Things Return To Nature Tomorrow.
“Here at Balletlab we’re on another mission to shift the understanding of what dance is all about. Particularly in this instance, we’re asking the audience to surrender just as much as the performers,” the company’s charismatic artistic director Phillip Adams told the Star Observer.
Exactly what audience members will be asked to surrender can vary from night to night – if you attend on Balletlab’s first-ever ‘nude night’ on March 21, you’ll have to leave your clothes at the door.
“We go to see performance loaded with expectations, and often we’re let down. What if we went to a performance and were asked to participate in such a way that we end up completely immersed in what’s going on?”
The performance, Adams explained, takes place in “a purpose-built environment where the audience can construct their own abductive space – and when I say abductive, I mean UFO.”
Audiences will be prepped with blankets and other materials to settle into their abduction space.
“Then we ask you a few questions – some of them are politically charged, some of them are sexually charged. If you don’t feel comfortable, you can just lay down.”
Adams’ research process for the work took him across the US to renowned ‘abduction sites’, places where cult-like collections of lost souls converge in the hopes of being taken from earth.
One such site, near Joshua Tree in desert California, is the Integratron, an acoustically perfect man-made dome structure in which regular ‘sound baths’ (meditation sessions accompanied by tones from quartz bowls) take place. Despite initial skepticism, Adams gave it a go – with otherworldly results.
“I had this really euphoric experience there where I left my body,” he said, somewhat sheepishly.
“I think it’s to do with the sound frequencies and the levels in your ears. The whole thing was worth an investigation, so we went back to the Integratron and built another structure right near it. I took all my clothes off and lay on this ‘landing site’ we’d built…”
Which brings us to the clothes-free element of And All Things Return To Nature Tomorrow. Did Adams have a battle on his hands, convincing his dancers of the idea?
“It was necessary that I ask the dancers how they felt about working naked from day one. I wanted to shed everything I’d been working with in my previous show, Aviary, which was an excessive rococo overload of bling,” he said.
“All our rehearsals have been completely nude – we take our clothes off outside so we’re not even tempted. To be honest, as the weeks have progressed, it’s been hard having to put them on at the end of the day!”