Noelle Huser wants her art to be something that neither she nor Missoula has experienced before. There’s a shortage of performance art in town, something the choreographer and artist is acutely aware of and trying to fix.
“I like to work with a lot of unknown elements,” she said. “That opens up this fleeting experience that is then and there.”
One of her largest shows so far is this weekend’s "Pop!" film release and live performance art event, which will combine experimental film, live dance and music. Huser herself isn’t really sure how it’s going to go.
“It’s going to be kind of a whole experience,” she said. “It’s going to be this whirlwind.”
The show started as a film release, for Huser and Amie Shea’s 5-minute experimental video "Pop!," which was made over the last year after the two met in a dance class at the University of Montana.
An original version of the film backed Huser’s choreography at a dance performance, but for this event she and Shea revisited their extra footage and constructed a new version of the film, which added pops of color and some further meaning to Huser’s initial idea of a dancer in nude body paint.
Generally, Huser said, “when you have a film and live dance going, the film has to be kind of simplistic, because you have stuff happening on stage.”
So she broke out the film and performance into two separate things, giving her room to broaden the ideas and visuals of both.
Each will explore ideas of self-perception, along with people’s internal responses to the external pressures of femininity, with Huser asking, “What does that do to your brainscape?”
Those pressures can be experienced by “anyone and anybody,” Huser said, and purposefully found men and women to accompany her for the performance aspect, which leads the show.
The performers will place themselves around the room, with some red balloons for effect. The audience fills in the gaps before the 30-minute performance begins, where the goal, to some degree, is to make everyone uncomfortable.
Eye contact will be made, improvised dance moves will be worked out in conjunction with “meditations” Huser has given her performers, and lipstick will be applied, not necessarily on the face.
“There’s a lot of unknown variables, which is kind of scary,” she said.
After the performance, the film will be shown, then Boy Feud, a new-wave electro dance duo (made up of Mia Soza and Trey Jorgensen) will cap off the night.
That fills out Huser’s goal of having “something for everybody,” where even if the experimental art makes you uncomfortable you can end the night with a dance party.
She encouraged attendees to have an open mind and be willing to explore and be challenged; it’s OK to be uncomfortable when a dancer looks directly into your eyes during the performance.
“It’s healthy for people to see weirder art,” she said. "I think that Missoula audiences need to be challenged a little more.”