The Performant: We want the airwaves

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Aeriel Art Soars at Theatre Artaud and Teatro Zinzanni

Do you dream of the day when you finally learn how to fly? For aerielists, that future is now, and that dream an everyday reality. It’s a career choice not for the faint of heart -- right up there, I’d say, with driving a fire truck or sailing around the world on a catamaran made of plastic bottles. But I imagine the psychic rewards to be tremendous. Life on the edge. Teasing gravity, tempting fate. To soar—perchance to jetstream.

During “Burning Libraries: Stories from the New Ellis Island” at Theatre Artaud, the oral histories of children take flight with the help of four dancers, two of whom (Susan M. Voyticky and Kerri Kresinski) spend considerable time in the air—elevating the simple text to reverent heights. Swooping from moonbeams made of aerial silks, Voyticky escapes from the segregated south, and later in the production, Voyticky and Kresinski dance in the sky, side by side, as fireworks (projection provided by Ian Winters) explode around them.

They collect eggs from the “tops of trees” and, in a wrenching history about the Port Chicago disaster, they go up in flames, and then form, with their earthbound companions, a monument to their own memories, shrouded behind the silks, frozen in time. The entire performance reminds somewhat of Blixa Bargeld’s “The Execution of Precious Memories” enacted on the same stage two years ago, right down to some of the same flaws (nagging paucity of cohesion and character depth) but the sheer pleasure of watching the unencumbered flights of the aerialists cannot be understated.

There’s something about watching an aerial performance unfolding genteelly on a stage, and quite another thing again about watching it swooping right over the dinner table (“Oh waiter! There’s a 'flyer' in my soup!”). You probably won’t regret it for the rest of your life if you happen to miss attending the latest Teatro Zinzanni  production “License to Kiss II, a Sweet Conspiracy” but if you’ve got some well-heeled relatives hanging around for the holidays, then what the heck.

Get them to take you and hang on to your soup spoon when sensuous Seattlite Kari Podgorski eats some magic love cherries and takes to the air in racy red lace lingerie. Beautifully framed by the antique swoop of the one-hundred year-old Speigeltent, her aphrodisiac acrobatics are a sweet treat. Twice as nice, the dynamic husband-and-wife Vertical Tango team (Sam Payne and Sandra Feusi), play out a passionate courtship in the air, spinning sinuously along the length of an impressively girthed stripper pole.

And just for the nervously giggling patrons inevitably seated in the font rows of tables, an interlude with a giant teddy bear on a tightrope will make the familiar pull of gravity seem curiously comforting—once he’s well out of pointblank crashdive range, that is.

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