The Sing Harlem choir walked out in street clothes, and each member held their hands above their heads. They walked in a line, two by two, and the word they sang broke the rhythm of their step. That word punched the silence of the great darkened room, but small trickles of slower singers had the word echoing softly as the choir split and walked around the room. They reassembled in the middle, a half moon shape, one crescent facing in and one crescent facing out.
A baritone moan, a hum, and more words, as one single operatic voice silenced the rest. Dancers in dark colors walked out, hands up. Only one was singing, amazing grace, how sweet the sound. The dancers wandered the floor. They found a place, they sat, in shorts and undershirt, and faced the distance.
When the choir joined in to the operatic moaning, the song changed. A change was coming over them, we could all feel it. All of the sitting dancers were assessed by a new set of characters, those wearing lab coats and gloves. They carefully began the change – a raffia skirt, a colorful sleeve, a stalk of colorful hair. Before my eyes, the dancers became gods, huge and colorful. The singing swelled, young singers, glittering against the glittering curtain, gracefully changing these men with their voices. The baritone cried, until his tears were covered by the embellishments of his new form. The lab coats finished their job and left. The dancers stood. They towered silently. Are we scared?
In the end, it turns out, we are scared. When you see what the god is made of, though, its rushing roar is no longer so impossible to understand. Nick Cave’s Soundsuits move and shake. They showed their anger and their joy. I had seen the dancer beneath, but now he was something different, something changed, and we were all invited to dance as the choir took over.