It isn’t my proclivity to fidget during performances but during this show was absolutely squirming in my seat. The sweet sounds of Helado Negro (which translates to ‘Black Ice Cream’) and the visual nature of the exhale dance tribe cloaked in silver strings of reflective material kept me bouncing my leg and tapping my fingers like a bored 5th grader. This latest addition to the performance series at the CAC, curated by Drew Klein, has left such a sweet taste in my mouth its flavor may be called ‘Black Box Ice Cream’.

The show itself started in a slow trance like state, no pretentious artist strode on stage. Instead a shy looking kid in black vans timidly walked on stage and approached the microphone like a casual friend. Robert Carlos Lange, the man behind the mic, is a SCAD graduate who has incorporated his influences of South American and Latin electronica as well as his cultural heritage in his sound.

As Lange guided us from our sets and into the sea of sound he had prepared the black box theater was filled with warm light and the cold concrete support beams were made to blush with a hue of rose coating their cold exterior. The dancers swayed to and fro like a group of land bound sea anemones that would be comfortable in the surrealistic world of Andrew Thomas Huang’s Solipsist.

As the candy colored lights saturated the stage Helado Negro played his way through some earlier works that floated around the room like sweet nothings. Transient in their nature these songs left a lingering feeling of sentimental sweetness in the wake of their memory. Meanwhile the glitter wookies continued their choreographed routine, which at one point turned into a pantomime that was all too familiar to some of us. A silent rendition of a couple falling apart, coming back to argue, and finally relenting in the exhaustion of the battle and collapsing into a cuddle puddle that formed around Lange framing him the way a teenager frames her beau’s initials with a heart, was riveting.

During the show Lange talked to the audience about his dynamic upbringing, his reconciliation of cultures, and spoke on these emotionally charged topics with a sly smile and a peaceful grin. It was only his hands, slightly tense, that seemed to give away any trace of nervousness. Moments later Lange put both of his hands out with his palms up and slowly raised them as he began to sing, offering his sights, sounds, and self as an offering to the audience at the CAC black box theater that night.

During the last song, I finally got to move. Lange implored the audience to stand and groove if the music moved them and he had hardly gotten the words out when the persons next to me gracefully rose to their feet and less than a second later I was standing with one hip jutted out ready to swing and my hands poised to clap in time to the beat. After such a good set I wanted to show the artist my appreciation through physical movement, to somehow express a gratitude for the journey they had provided for the night’s entertainment.

As I walked out there was a sense of buoyance from the crowd. Grins and giggles were exchanged as people pointed out who stood up, who stayed seated, and who danced with slightly too much zeal. The results of a night with Helado Negro left me feeling content, as if the confection of this auditory treat had satisfied my sweet tooth.

–Katie Dreyer

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