Aerial Arts of Utah recently landed at the Rose Wagner for their yearly spectacle of high-flying dance and acrobatics. The show opened with Elizabeth Stich on the aerial rope (or corde lisse) in a constantly moving solo with French flair. She kept the audience in quiet awe of her strength and flexibility, which she was able to feature later in the show with an acrobatic routine that involved no apparatus, but kept us on the edge of our seats while she balanced on her hands, and danced gracefully across the stage. As a performer, Stich is captivating in any environment.
The second act was a lighthearted trapeze duet to the Golden Oldies. The two dancers demonstrated an extensive variety of partnering skills such as balancing while standing on the back of each other’s necks, and entwining their limbs to create a two-person momentum-machine. The transitions between these impressive moments seemed unpolished and awkward, despite the accomplishment of very challenging partner work.
The lyra duet performed by Nancy Carter and Amy Olson was a favorite of mine. It was beautiful to watch the suspended hoop that had space for both dancers, and was rigged to flip end over end. It concluded as the dancers aimed their bodies through the rotating hoop several times, in an unbelievable combination of timing, balance, coordination, and trust. I was surprised to see the strain in these seasoned performers, which highlights how truly demanding this piece was to perform.
Piper Mathews also stood out to me in her trapeze solo. She has a flair for the dramatic which served her sharp and precise movement style that I really enjoyed throughout the performance. Strong side lighting almost made the trapeze disappear while highlighting her floating figure, and haunting expressions.
The aerial silks were featured in three dances of the evening. Beautiful performed by Adriane Colvin and Mark Bolyea featured two performers on the same apparatus. Their white costumes against the red fabric gave a romantic atmosphere to the piece. Both partners supported each other in challenging positions as they scaled the fabric. I especially enjoyed Colvin’s performance of Secret with Anne Kocherhans, in which some dark humor was portrayed through quirky poses and broken lines of the two dancers’ movements. The finals silks performance closed the evening with co-owners Eppstein and Kocherhans in front of a video projection by Paul Winder. This gave the dancers the dizzying effect of floating above cityscapes, amongst hot air balloons, taking a dip in the ocean, and finally dancing off into the clouds.
It’s always good to leave the audience wanting more, and this year Aerial Arts of Utah did just that. Memorable characters were created, whose worlds and stories seemed to have the depth to explore more. Salt Lake City is fortunate to look forward to this unique performance each year.
Erin Romero is a dancer and choreographer based in Salt Lake City. She co-directs Movement Forum and has also showed work independently throughout the city.