Exposing themselves 

Imagine that all that is true about you is written on your body in invisible ink: in words and arcane diagrams, in lines and strange shapes. And the truth that it tells is intemperate, outrageous and shamelessly inconsistent. Think of all that you hide from the public eye to appear acceptable, respectable, predictable and polite. Now reveal it all. Trace the words in brown and white, showing every shadow, bathing yourself in light.

So it is in the "body writing" section of In the Shadows of Secrets and Tales Told Out Loud, an evening-length duet of experimental modern dance, performance art, and poetry by dancers/choreographers Wayne Smith and Jhon Stronks. "We're in a place of exposing clarity," says Stronks, who writes on his pale skin with brown eyeliner while Smith draws figures in white on his dark skin.

Text is everywhere in the work, not just written on the dancers and other surfaces, but spoken, using the words of poets including radical feminist bell hooks and the late Essex Hemphill, who wrote bravely and tenderly about his experiences as a gay, African-American man with HIV. The poets were chosen, says Smith, for "their honesty and their forthrightness, their willingness to be vulnerable."

Smith and Stronks do no less. Both remain onstage throughout the performance, even during costume changes. About half of the work is improvised (following a basic architecture planned out in advance), giving them no opportunity to censor revelations they might rather keep hidden. Stronks even reveals racially motivated rage in a disturbing choreographed scene of assault that ends in a love duet.

It is a dance not of searching but of declaring the undiluted self. A dance of excessive anger and libertine love. A dance of surrender to and assertion of identity unmoderated, riotous, inconstant, messy ... and yet somehow still marvelous and whole.Smithworx Inc. and "there ... in the sunlight" present In the Shadows of Tales and Secrets Told Out Loud Oct. 22-24 at The Beam, 750 Glenwood Ave. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 5 p.m. $10-$15. 404-668-9317. thereinthesunlight@yahoo.com.

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