Covered Sky: AERA Dance |Aerial Dance Company at New York Live Arts….
AERA is an aerial dance company based out of Brooklyn, New York. That is about the extent of what I knew about AERA. So I was not really sure what to expect for the performance of Covered Sky by AERA Dance |Aerial Dance Company at New York Live Arts.
Covered Sky is set in three sets, each twenty minutes. When the curtain opens you see a lone woman on stage, rotating slowly, majestically as she reclines in an aerial hoop. The lighting is moody, yet bespeaks passion.
Two black pieces of fabric that are stretched across the stage start being manipulated in a way that calls to mind rolling waves on a black sea. Body parts begin to be seen, a leg here, an arm there and then a whole body.
Covered Sky is a fascinating work, filled with daring and a lot of expertise. The artists make everything look so easy that the true difficulty is deceiving to the eye. The three sections use various aerial apparatuses, silks flow to the floor, a floor to ceiling pole is center stage and aerial hoops hang suspended in the background.
The days when pole dancing consisted of women twerking for dollar bills in strip clubs is in the past. Pole dancing has graduated into a beautiful and artistic form of body expression that takes great control and true dedication. Men have joined in the pole dancing explosion, drawn to its great physicality and the daring of being suspended 18-30 feet above the ground.
Aerialist Joshua Henry is one of these men, his specialty is the pole and when he climbs upon it you witnesses why. Suspended almost to the rafters, his pole dancing was a thing of wonder; each move flowed into the next with ease. My only disappointment is that Mr. Henry and his extraordinary talents were under-utilized. I so craved to see more of his pole performance.Truly, if you ever have the chance to witness Mr. Henry in a pole dancing performance, do so……..it’s simply amazing.
Dalijah Franklin was mesmerizing. Your eyed followed her on stage as she puts her body into incredible feats of agility, holding herself horizontally as she walks in the air. Ms. Franklin does not fit the Balanchine image of a dancer, and thank goodness for that. Instead Ms. Franklin is woman with curves, a true example of the supreme feminine physique, the woman as goddess made manifest.
Joshua Dean held the audience in the palm of his hand, with his tight, petit physique and platinum blond hair he was not hard to miss. But his daring and artistry is what held us. His ability to move, whether pole, silks or hoops, you knew you were watching a truly gifted artist.
As for the production itself, everything was superb, music, lighting, costumes, staging. When the artist was in the air, either on an apparatus or assisting another artist in the air, the performances were magical. You longed to join them in in their sense of freedom and of the spirit no-longer being earth-bound. Gravity is a law of Nature for the lesser life-forms, not these celestial beings that live in the air.
With that said, the floor choreography could be stronger, more imaginative, more innovated. While there was such risk and excitement being performed aerially, the floor choreographed seemed to lack the originality of thought and expression that’s so rich in other aspects of the performance. But, that is a minor detail, part of the growth process experienced by young companies that will be resolved in the ongoing creation of new works.
But the pièce de résistance for the performance was Allison Wardwell’s solo during the last section as she performed to the music of Talk Talk. Emotion flowed through every move, every gesture of Ms. Wardwell. Her solo spoke of life, love and loss. It was hauntingly beautiful and I am richer for having seen it.
Founded in 2009, AERA aims to expand the performance environment by creating a unique shared experience with the audience. As an aerial dance company, AERA combines original choreography and custom designed three-dimensional structures that utilize mediums such as fabric, pole, and rope in addition to other technologies to create a multifaceted experience of performance art. AERA’s goal is to create experiential art through aerial dance.
Artistic Director: Kyle McBeth
Choreographer: Kyra Johannesen
Choreographer: Jen James Martin
Makeup Design: Kate Alley
Costume Design: Diana Susantro
Airin Dalton, Joshua Dean, Tatiana Depillo, Dalijah Franklin, Lara Micheals, Rommel Pierre O’Choa, Angel Reed, Elaina Royter, Joshua Henry, Alison Wardwell