DanceView Times, Washington, D.C. edition
Flying into the Unknown
Stories of Gravity and Transformation
by Clare Croft
Until Friday, I was an aerial dance virgin. After Friday, I am an aerial dance enthusiast. On the West Coast, there are many dancers and choreographers experimenting with hanging from ropes, but for the East Coast, Project Bandaloop’s Crossing, Stories of Gravity and Transformation was a welcome change of pace. Artistic Director Amelia Rudolph’s piece part performance, part documentary featured dancers in the air and on the ground. Projections from footage shot in the Sierra Nevadas, where the company enacted eighteen days of site-specific work, appeared on a giant trampoline that covered the back of the stage. Another trampoline covered the stage’s left wings. The piece as a whole suffered from a lack of cohesion, but when the choreography was beautiful, as it was when the dancers took to the air, it was a revolutionary experience.
offers a new way to represent the inner, emotional connections between
people. In an early duet, one woman first hung amidst projections of mountain
streams, then was joined by another woman dancing on the floor. The second
woman manipulated the suspended dancer, finally pulling herself onto the
woman’s back; the two swinging together in an embrace. The moment
struck me as a visualization of the trust required to love another person,
jumping into the arms of someone who is not in full control of his or
herself. The two women were both vulnerable, but vulnerable together.
As an audience
member I found it difficult to relax throughout the show because the aerial
dance did not always fuse well with the more traditional modern choreography
on the ground. I constantly had to make choices of where to look onstage,
finding myself incapable of taking in the spectacle as a whole. And, when
there was no aerial dance, only dancers on the ground, the movement seemed
flat and unfocused. The wandering quality that might have been appropriate
in the mountains did not translate well to the stage. Only in the athletic,
yet floating duets for the company’s two men did the dancing on
the ground ever approach the level of excitement generated by the aerial
The projections, a video by Greg Bernstein, did not do justice to their content. Granted, no pictures of nature can replicate the beauty of the real thing, but the quality of the images, possibly because a trampoline does not double well as a movie screen, was a bit lackluster. The projections also complicated the visual cohesion. Especially when dancers hung in front of the pictures while others danced on the ground below, it was hard to decide what was meant to be foreground and what was meant as background.
Despite the problems with Crossing, it’s a work well worth seeing, especially for audiences not accustomed to aerial dance. Watching this form for the first time, excited by its possibilities, I kept wondering, might this have been how audiences felt when they first watched Taglioni stand en pointe?
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