Steve Reich’s “Come Out” was an early tape loop experiment that features the voice of a man (Hamm) beaten by the police in Harlem in 1964. Hamm was abused for hours as police refused to give him medical treatment because he was not visibly bleeding. Hamm had received many bruises and recalls: “I had to, like, open the bruise up and let some of the bruise blood come out to show them.” Steve Reich took those last five words and turned them into a haunting repetition that reflects and obscures the harrows of that abuse. Pitchfork has a very in-depth article expanding on Hamm’s story and the history of the piece during a time of civil rights struggle, a similar struggle we still face today.
This video also features choreography of Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker with help from principal dancer Michele Anne de Mey. Using their arms for momentum while seated on stools, the accumulating movements create tensions between order and disorder through a highly structured dance. A sense of struggle and strength is reflected in the use of breath and sounds created through the tedious movements. De Keersmaeker’s style is based off of Steve Reich’s compositional methods using natural gestures and steps, structural relations to music and tension between two contradictory impulses: formalism and expressionism. She often uses these tensions to create tornado-like patterns of structured chaos as the piece unfolds. About structure De Keersmaeker says: “I’m obsessed by structures. But the most beautiful experience is to see such a construction generating something intangible, elusive- an emotion.”