Related Features


Your support helps us cover dance in New York City and beyond! Donate now.

IMPRESSIONS: Amber Sloan at Arts on Site

IMPRESSIONS: Amber Sloan at Arts on Site
Miranda Stuck

By Miranda Stuck
View Profile | More From This Author

Published on April 8, 2023
Amber Sloan; photo by Julie Lemberger

Presenting "A,E,I,O, You, and Sometimes Why" and "The Butterfly Effect" (Work In Progress)

Butterfly Effect (work-in-progress)
Choreographer: Amber Sloan
Dancers: Chelsea Enjer Hecht and Jordan Morley
Music: Wind by Jason Moran


A,E,I,O, You, and Sometimes Why
An autobiographical solo exploring the psyche through four separate but interconnected topics: Aging, Ego, Injury, and Obsession.
Choreographer* and performer: Amber Sloan
*Additional choreographic sampling, in order of appearance: Diane Yates, José Limón, Heinz Poll, Keely Garfield, Sara Hook, Doug Elkins, James Waring, David Parker, and Linda Lehovec
Dramaturgy: Stephanie Acosta
Costumes: Pei-Chi Su and Amber Sloan
Video collage: Amber Sloan, Sound collage: Sam Crawford and Amber Sloan
Music: Judy Garland; Paula Matthesun; Donna Summer; The Contours; Ella Fitzgerald; Johann Sebastian Bach; C & C Music Factory; Earth, Wind & Fire; Maurice Ravel; Marc Ribot; Franz Schubert; Evadne Baker; Sergei Rachmaninoff; Dmitri Shostakovich; Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky; Irma Thomas; Oren Amabarchi; Nina Simone; The Temptations; Bobby Darin

Saturday, March 25 2023 at 5:30 PM at Arts on Site

Dancers tend to be nostalgic about their childhood dance experiences. Specific songs, bad days, inspiring teachers and repetitive corrections stay with a dancer forever, becoming pivotal moments with which a dancer chooses to give up or to keep going.  At Arts on Site, Amber Sloan brings the audience into her past through bittersweet, vulnerable memories as a child growing up in the performing arts. Sloan presents Butterfly Effect (work-in-progress) danced by Chelsea Enjer Hecht and Jordan Morley and her evening length solo, A,E,I,O, You, and Sometimes Why, a story with an underscore of dynamic intricacy, openness, and growing pains.

White woman with long legs and short black shorts, legs in a new lunge holds the ribbons to large gold helium balloons with her right hand behind her back. Her left arm hangs long parallel to her upright body. Whe wears a sheer black printed blouse
Amber Sloane in A,E,I,O, You, and Sometimes Why; photo by Julie Lemberger

Hecht and Morley emerge in dim light but are quickly illuminated to reveal their sleeveless tops and patterned pants. Lengthy, detailed, quick-paced piano hums rise from silence, as the dancers pick up the pace.  Long limbs connect as the dancers explore counterbalance, swift exchanges of weight, and relaxed, smooth movement. They move with confidence and comfortableness in front of the intimate audience.

A slight pause separates the two dances as a projector positioned upstage drops down to screen performance clips from Sloan’s toddlerhood to girlhood.  Sloan dances ballet, hip hop, jazz, and tap, accompanied by the Hello Dolly song, Get Happy. The audience, sparked with joy, smiles and laughs. However, Sloan next appears in bright red downstage left, and the questions she asks dispel the lightheartedness of childhood.

“What if you have a panic attack?” “What if you forget all the steps? What if you’re a bad dancer?” She stands, focused, her questions becoming statements. “You’re going to have a panic attack.”  She begins searching for something, for what we don’t know, and as she searches, her breathing becomes noticeable. She walks circular paths, her arms tracing circular port de bras. Her anxiety causes her body to shake with nervousness and fear. “Stop it,” she commands. Eventually quieted, she sits in silence.

For a working dancer A,E,I,O, You, And Sometimes Why is provocative. Initially empowered and inspired as a child dancer, Sloan becomes riddled by anxiety when she chooses to earn her living as an independent dancer and choreographer. In this most competitive field, it is the power of the inner voice, that carries us or sinks us. “Part preparation for battle, part celebration of maturity, [A, E, I, O, You, And Sometimes Why] functions as a love letter to the exhilaration and anguish that comes with a lifetime onstage,” states the program. The battle is evident, from the battle of self-criticism to the battle against injury. Sloan’s visual of peeling off her dress to reveal body tape, wraps, and braces is jarring but oddly realistic. To an audio track of crackling, she moves joint by joint to the floor, as if pulled by a magnet. Nothing in her body moves properly, the pain of injury (many in the audience relate) causes her to struggle to cross the floor.

Woman curved and spiraled in an arch on the floor, she lies on her right shoulder with her face upside down. Her left black sneakerd foot is flexed. She wears a patterned, shiny top and short black shorts.
Amber Sloan; photo by Yi Chun Wu


Although at times painful to watch, Sloan does not leave humor out of the mix. She plays dress up wearing a pink skirt, glittery dress, and even boxing gloves. She reenacts, as an adult, her childhood performance video compilation to hits by Nina Simone and Donna Summer’s Last Dance. The playfulness of her inner child is present on her face, and through her emotions and movement.

From age three, to 34, to 43, Sloan uses balloons as age markers to string together the narrative of a difficult, love-hate relationship to the art form and all the insecurities that come with the process. Sloan eventually holds all three balloons tightly, sharing love to each age and milestone. Charming and heartwarming, the audience cheers.

Invited into Sloan’s world of memory, the audience experiences chapters of Sloan’s life through her refreshingly vulnerable lens as a talented and genuine dancer and choreographer. A,E,I,O, You, and Sometimes Why strikes a chord with past, present, injured, healthy, and working dancers, and in return, we say thank you.

The Dance Enthusiast Shares IMPRESSIONS/our brand of review, and creates conversation.
For more IMPRESSIONS, click here.
Share your #AudienceReview of performances. Write one today!

The Dance Enthusiast - News, Reviews, Interviews and an Open Invitation for YOU to join the Dance Conversation.

Related Features

More from this Author