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Dancers thrill in Blue Lapis show

Claire Christine Spera

Gliding out over the waters of Lady Bird Lake on Sunday at dusk, a passenger on one of two Capital Cruises boats making its way west toward the old Power Plant Intake Building on the shore, I had more time than I'd had in a while to simply bask in my surroundings: Austin's skyline all lit up, the Frost Tower its signature edifice; the sight of a lone swan floating between the boats; the sounds of a freight train rumbling on the bridge tracks over the lake; the feel of gliding over water.

I was here to experience Blue Lapis Light's "Devotion," a 45-minute site-specific aerial dance piece being performed by 15 artists under the direction of artistic and executive director Sally Jacques, with the help of an intricate system of harnesses, trapeze equipment and ropes, on the facade of the power plant building. But ultimately, I was encountering something beyond the purely visual. Just my physical presence, out in the middle of the lake, the wind scrambling my hair and acting as a natural air conditioner in the heat of that night, was enough to make me feel new again.

In the opening moments of the performance, the company's associate artistic director, Nicole Whiteside, performed a series of balletic movements on the ground just in front of the building while wearing a dress that shimmered spectacularly in the floodlights; she then dove head first into the dark water before her. I could almost feel that sensation - the shock of being dry one minute and soaked the next.

Enter four rowers, each transporting a trapeze dancer. One by one, they mounted their trapeze equipment, calmly taking their seats on the thin bar-swings suspended by ropes, before being pulled up, up and away from the water to reach a stomach-dropping height. In unison, the four women bungeed from their swing-perches, all the while flanked by six "wall dancers" who resembled geckos stuck to the facade, their shadows seemingly multiplying the bodies occupying the space.

The music selection - ranging from Dido to Satie to Chopin to German DJ ATB - lent a dreamy atmosphere that could be heard just as easily by those of us on the boats as those audience members seated on the shore opposite the plant, thanks to sound designer/operator William Meadows. The lighting and video projections (Jason Amato and Scott Hathaway, respectively) enhanced the natural landscape.

While a performance of this kind requires an expert technical crew and months of careful planning, it all seemed to go off effortlessly. I could feel a small thrill in my stomach each time a dancer plunged from the sky downward, but it was the good kind of thrill - not the bad.

'Devotion'

When: 9 p.m. Thursday-Sunday

Where: South shore of Lady Bird Lake

Cost: $12-$48

Information: 474-5664, www.bluelapislight.org