Aloft Aerial Dance | Dance Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Arts & Culture » Dance Critic's Choice

Aloft Aerial Dance

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Somehow I had the impression that aerial dance was all about the feats. Boy, was I wrong. In an hour-long piece called Rolling Blackouts, choreographer-director Shayna Swanson takes a somewhat ragtag group of 12 performers and molds their vignettes on rings, trapezes, silks, and bungee cords into a meditation on the perils and pleasures of vulnerability. Using the conceit of a power outage, Swanson explores her own fears of losing her vision (she has severe astigmatism). When the lights go out, the action is lit by battery-powered flashlights and lanterns, often held by the performers, who in effect become the lighting technicians too. The resulting look of the piece is moody and eerie, a far cry from the bright lights and dazzling sequins of the circus. Swanson also makes imaginative use of the lofted space's rafters and ceiling windows, which allow the city's orange glow to penetrate the room. Thoughtfully, she's created duets that emphasize the performers' reliance on each other. But my favorites were the solos, particularly Swanson's own powerful flailing early on and another, more lyrical solo on a low-hanging ring that uses contact with the floor as a metaphor for reaching bottom. The storytelling is a little obscure at times, but overall this is a truly creative, heartfelt show. 9/23-9/25: Fri-Sun 8 PM. Circus Factory, 4430 N. Western, 773-507-2604. $15-$20.

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