(This review is written by American-Statesman freelance arts critic Claire Christine Spera.)
On Saturday evening, in a field where the cicadas sang off Old Manchaca Road, aerial dance company Blue Lapis Light’s 10 members hung off three-story scaffolding.
This was “Edge of Grace,” Artistic Director Sally Jacques’ site-specific work that explored what it means to be ruled by societal norms and injustices, how to move through them, and how to live on the edge — that periphery where perhaps peace can be found.
Held at the site of Blue Lapis Light’s brand new studio, the production’s steel-bar scaffolding-and-platforms setup was flanked by dangling ropes and solid walls. The dancers made full use of this playground, moving from section to section almost as though they were drifting in water. “Graceful” doesn’t fully explain their motions, which were fluid, calm and calculatingly full, with a touch of risk thrown in — like a catch of breath before a deep dive.
There were no harnesses to keep them safe from falling as they climbed ladders, hung single-handedly from the steel structure, performed backbends over the bars and dangled upside down from the ropes. Instead, they relied on their sure-footed bodies to carry them all over the set. With lighting by Alex Soto of ILIOS Lighting Design, the scene was often bathed in cool colors that illuminated an ambient haze. The dancers almost looked wet, their luminously white unitards shining in the light.
The music moved through different styles and included compositions by sound designer/operator William Meadows. Operatic singing to strings and organ turned to stringed music of an Arabic variety; wind chimes, violin, piano, percussion and synthesizer took over in other sections.
Blue Lapis Light is a company that is both soft and strong all at once: soft in their smooth, graceful gestures, strong in their sturdy athleticism. The women were especially impressive, performing pull-ups like they were a piece of cake (that upper-body strength!).
Over the course of an hour, Blue Lapis Light’s dancers played on the edge — the edge of platforms, the edge of what’s humanly possible, the edge of grace. The edges are where we find ourselves, they seemed to say.
“Edge of Grace” continues through Sept. 27. Tickets through www.thelongcenter.org