Ana Pi’s solo Noirblue plays on the concept of a ‘blue dance’ that speaks to ‘black dance’, danse noire. Dance performed by black dancers is historically the only form of dance that has an adjective stuck to it. Pi explains that in many cultures and languages there used to be no word for ‘blue’; when something cannot be named it doesn’t exist. On the other hand when the adjective ‘black’ is apposed to dance, the colour is made extra-visible. Noirblue navigates these notions of visibility and invisibility.
It starts with a blue glow in the distance. A figure stands with its feet up and head on the ground. The blue halo comes from the LED light-up shoes the figure is wearing, the only source of light in the darkness. They begin a mesmerising dance where the legs become tentacles, swaying and floating. When a brighter light is turned on, we discover Ana Pi’s body, her black skin and indigo costume. She sketches several dances, never insisting on a gesture but passing rapidly through corporealities. She alternately evokes Tuaregs, wrapped in indigo; an oceanic, ultramarine body; and a body on which exoticism, carnival, tribalism is often projected. Her body is also that of a young, black, flexible, woman, and a body in struggle. Pi embodies and softly conjures up these images, slipping into the movements as if trying different costumes which she discards immediately.
The blue she evokes is ‘feeling blue’, the blue of melancholia and sadness, Pi singing, ‘My only sin is in my skin,’ from Louis Armstrong’s ‘Black and Blue’. But it is also the bright and hopeful blue of Afrofuturism, where the voices of marginalised people will be heard, will have the right to exist. Shades of blue and shades of black dialogue in creating an imagery, peeling off layers of prejudices, cliches, projections and fantasies. Pi puts white round stickers all over her body naming a shade of blue for each – and asks us to pitch in. Turquoise, midnight blue, azure… in between royal and sky blue when she proclaims ‘colonial blue’ and the mood darkens. In French, bleu also means a bruise, and the image is irresistibly one of a body covered in colonial bruises. A black light is turned on so that the stickers glow in the dark. Pi is now a floating figure, the white dots moving around in a brief ghost-like dance. The black body is now dematerialised, totally absorbed into the surrounding darkness.