Maybe you saw trapeze artists in your kid days, when you went to a cricus. Or maybe it was was the higher art form of, say, a Cirque de Soleil performance. Whatever it is, it captures so many imaginations as it did the intrepid Teri Briggs. She went for a lesson on the pole at a recent rehearsal with Pendulum Aerial Arts.
Pendulum Aerial Arts: High Art comes round Full Circle
Teri Briggs went to the source to get the full visual. All these beautiful images are courtesy of Teri’s great eye and her camera!
It was a fun evening out at the French American School where, celebrating their 15th season, Suzanne Kenney’s, Pendulum Aerial Arts was rehearsing for next week’s signature performance of, “High Art/ Full Circle”. First premiering in 2010, this is a smaller, more intimate version that fuses dance, original music, storytelling, circus arts and rich theatrical design. With acts occurring simultaneously in the air and on the ground, the show is a virtual feast for the senses and will be a show to remember.
The story begins with a “Painter” in her studio, portrayed with great emotion by Luna Brie Blakeman, who envisions her subjects coming to life in high-flying and wondrous ways. When one of her characters runs out of control, the canvas transforms into a three-dimensional aerial and acrobatic performance, as she helps all her creations find closure in their journey. A cast of seven portrays the cycles of life from birth through rebirth in a touching story about how life and art are intertwined. Each act is inspired by masterworks such as Gustav Klimt’s ‘The Kiss’ and Picasso’s ‘Girl Before A Mirror’. Contortion, hula-hoop, and several unique aerial apparatuses will send audiences soaring and spinning along with the performers.
We were given a preview of three of the acts. First was the birth from Act 1 which is inspired by Dali’s, ‘Geopoliticus Child Watching the Birth of the New Man’ portrayed by Lisbeth Mikoleit. Luna and Lisbeth do such a great job conveying all the emotions in this act that one really gets a sense of the full circle that embodies a birth, from the joy of its creation to the drama of the actual birth, and finally, to the transformation as creator and birthed come together.
We then witnessed Lilith’s character, portrayed dramatically by Madi Knox, when she has her breakdown. The rope is the perfect medium for imagining the turmoil of one’s spirit as Madi writhed, twisted, and turned within it.
Our final preview, Luna/the Painter utilizes the hoops in the ‘Circle of Life’ act. As we see throughout the production, Life is a circle of birth, maturity, death, and rebirth. All living things follow this circle in the same path. From birth, each of us begins our journey path, life is the path we walk, and we all walk the path of this circle. The circle represents unity of all things and has neither a beginning nor end, thus the Circle of Life is never ending. The hoops provide the perfect imagery in this act as Luna beautifully integrates them with her own body to convey unity with all things.
We finished the evening with an incredible pole demonstration by Mo’Nika Ell who portrays ‘Everyman’ in the production. He made it look so effortless that I just had to try it. Suffice it to say that my grip strength and pole skills need a bit more practice in order to reach Mo’Nika’s skill level but it sure was fun!
On With the Show
The production features live music performances by longtime Pendulum collaborators, chanteuse Sasha Lazard, Grammy Award-nominated cellist Dave Eggar, and percussionist Chuck Palmer. Sasha’s ethereal vocals are a perfect complement to this show, and many of the songs are from her new album, “Lumière”, her most personal collection of songs both selected and written by the artist herself. Suzanne and Sasha have collaborated many times on a production and often find that their lives mirror one another’s which makes for a seamless fit.
Under the direction of Suzanne Kenney, Pendulum has been an innovator in both aerial performance and education in the United States, mixing dance, acrobatics, theatre and storytelling with contemporary circus arts since 2000. Their education program strives to encourage creativity, personal growth and physical fitness for youth, particularly pre-teen and teenage girls. In keeping with Pendulum’s core values, the program focuses on both technical excellence and finding one’s artistic heart. In spending time with Suzanne and her performers, I could quickly sense the familial connection they all have to one another and imagine this feeling would be conveyed in their educational program as well.
SEE THE SHOW!
High Art/Full Circle is a performance everyone should see as it celebrates the Circle of Life. Kenney promises that all of your senses will be energized while watching High Art and you will come out of the theater feeling more alive. “There’s so much darkness in the world,” Kenney says, “that I want to take you away from the day and immerse you in something opulent and uplifting.”
Tickets: Newmark Theatre – August 22-23: 7:30 p.m., August 24: 2:00 p.m. – $38.50-$65.25