By Ana Pollo, Special to the Revelstoke Times Review
For Aeriosa aerial dance ensemble and Revelstoke’s dance enthusiasts, Saturday was the last sparklings of what was a magical week of all things Aeriosa. After the video presentation, workshops and open rehearsals Revelstoke was ready and eager for their performance.
The show opened with a sparse set; two single ropes hanging off centre, low lighting and a simple lighting deco that resembled stars projected as a background. Down tempo minimalist music supported the slow and buoyant mood of the first piece called Unfinished — later announced by artistic director, Julia Taffe.
It was a look at the complexities of “rigging,” the technical part of the art using the ropes to get different effects and uses. The three dancers went through many different ways to rig one another by way of dance.
Several quite different vignettes were divided by Taffe’s narration. She explained that the show would be a multi-media piece combining aerial dance, contemporary dance and clips of where the aerial dance really shines — on the side of high profile sky scrapers from Toronto to Taipei.
What is interesting about presenting their work this way is that you see the many layers it takes to get them off the ground. Like slowly turning the pages of an artist’s sketchbook seeing how an image or idea has grown, each creation slowly unfolded into the next.
The first piece gave an appreciation for the know-how and team effort it takes to make sure they are safe. The following contemporary dance pieces were announced as “the seeds” to the work in harnesses. Julia created a contemporary choreography first in order to really understand the heart of the dance and then applied that to the ropes.
The more notable of the two contemporary pieces was “cedar roots,” an intriguing unfolding of three dancers bodies made to look like one. Creating intricate and engaging shapes growing out continuously from the centre of a multi-limbed deity. Bathed in a red light this piece was stunning.
The next high ropes piece brought in youth and adult attendees of the workshops they held. A sea of bodies rolling across the stage underneath the spinning, roped trio accompanied by lighting that cast shadows of the dancers along the walls of the theatre was a peak moment. The segment held in the theatre ended with a prancing, flute playing billy goat named Abby (the groups rigger) leading us out into the atrium to watch the final exposition.
Done with bungee ropes, which by nature and with upbeat electro-pop music was much more energetic and bursting with the fun of being airborne. The harnesses they used were full-bodied, cleverly disguised by purple jumpers with open backs where they attached. Two silver rock shaped props were used as static objects to dance and tumble off of. Standing dancers, would launch them into beautiful spirally flips and catch them just in time.
The end of the night came with flowers thanking the group for all the experience they brought to the community. Part of Aeriosa’s mission is to make dance accessible to all walks of life through free or low-cost performances, workshops and talks. Any way to engage they can is an honourable and purist approach to sharing the art. We can definitely say in Revelstoke they were true to their beliefs.
The most appealing aspect of the dancers was they were all so approachable and over-joyed to share their experiences and skills with their audience and workshop participants. The youth workshop that starred 10 eager giggling gals were treated as peers and gently pushed to go beyond what they thought was possible. At the end of the performance I heard many members of the audience mention how it inspired them to go reignite their love of dance or take it further, with that we can say that the goal of Aeriosa’s enchanting visit was greatly fulfilled.