O-T-O Dance performed "Balanced Edge" last night and
Friday evening at the Pima Community College Center for the Arts Proscenium
Theatre (2202 W. Anklam Road); the concert repeats at 2 p.m. today. Tickets
are $10-$12 at the door.
By Jennifer Lee Carrell
ARIZONA DAILY STAR
Last night, "Balanced Edge," the new full-length work of aerial
dance by the O-T-O Dance, proved to be cutting-edge, boundary-breaking
and continually astonishing. Twined with videography, music, poetry and the
hissing, cackling and caressing voice of Paul Fisher in the person of a
kachina-like clown, the dance soared over the stage in what is certain to be
one of the most thrilling multimedia performances by a Tucson arts troupe
Choreographed by artistic director Anne Bunker, the dance space
transformed the dancers into slow, strange angels, birds of prey and spinning insects.
The first half sped through scattered fragments of imagery, movement
and sound that invited the audience to create its own narrative: from the
sky-reaching filigree of bridges, to the filament of a spider, to an
apocalypse of dust rising from earth-movers razing the desert, the images of
Chuck Koesters' videography fell into "corridors of wanton
correspondence" with the inventive new trapezes that gave the dancers
Two slow-spiraling duets were gorgeously sensual: Bunker and
Elizabeth Breck slid dangerously within a flexible fretwork trapeze that
morphed from web to cathedral spire to ship's spar. Behind them, the image of
a spider seemed to be speaking: "This is not a pretty piece of lace. . .
. I made this silver veil to be an instrument of death."
Matthew Henley and Charles Thompson spun threateningly close to each
other in opposite circles, Henley on the ground, and Thompson skating inches
above him on a disclike trapeze.
The second half of the work condensed to a narrower focus on pure
dance, haunted by the concrete words of poet Charles Alexander:
"air," "dirt," "dust," "desert"
"city" and "book." Lit in eery red, firelit night or
darkened to silhouettes, the dancers moved from fetal curls to doom-ridden
urgency that staggered and spun through explorations of imbalance. A sense of
post-apocalyptic disturbance thrummed through much of this half of the
Koesters' music underlined that urgency, combining the unearthly
praise of medieval chant with dangerous percussive frenzy.
For this work, Bunker and Koesters have invented a number of new
aerial apparatus, leaving the single-barred trapeze as far behind as the
stone age. Spinning circles, padded double trapezes, flexible skeletal boxes
and sandbags all teased the imagination.
The finale brought balance back to center stage in a spectacular
Calder-like mobile that set the dancers free in every direction, but linked
them inescapably to each other.