CriticalDance Forum

Aeros: Parsons, etc. + Romanian gymnasts
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Author:  Azlan [ Mon Mar 26, 2001 5:42 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Aeros: Parsons, etc. + Romanian gymnasts

A review from DC:<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><B>'Aeros' Puts Action Over Art</B><P>Lisa Traiger, Washington Post<P>The ever-shifting line between art and popular entertainment has been blurred once again. "Aeros," featuring 21 athletes from the Romanian Gymnastics Federation and choreography by three modern dancers of repute, tumbled into the Warner Theatre for a one-night show Saturday.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><A HREF="" TARGET=_blank><B>More</B></A>

Author:  Azlan [ Sun Jan 12, 2003 5:00 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Aeros: Parsons, etc. + Romanian gymnasts

And older post from Nancy moved here:

Member# 413

posted 18 March 2001 04:55 PM
I went to a performance of AEROS this afternoon at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. It featured athletes from the Romanian Gymnastics Federation and was directed by Daniel Ezralow, David Parsons and Moses Pendleton (Pilobolus?). Has anyone out there had the opportunity to see them? I'd be interested to hear what you thought of them.
And a very short article:


Leba Hertz, SF Chronicle

There's nothing routine about it.
<a href= target=_blank>More</a>

<small>[ 12 January 2003, 06:04 PM: Message edited by: Azlan ]</small>

Author:  LMCtech [ Fri Jan 17, 2003 1:54 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Aeros: Parsons, etc. + Romanian gymnasts

This company is back in California. A preview from the Oakland Tribune.

Hybrid 'Aeros' a demanding exploration of human body
By Jeanne Fogler

"Aeros" is neither a gymnastics event nor a dance show, Ezralow says, but it is filled with movement and is all about energy and the beauty of the bodies. He describes creating the show for the team as choreographing for "this marvelous thing that flies in the air." Using a group of athletes with highly specialized abilities enables the choreographers to make demands on the performers that would not ordinarily be possible. You might not be able to ask dancers to, say, stand on their hands for five minutes, but you can ask this group.

Author:  djb [ Fri Jan 17, 2003 2:40 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Aeros: Parsons, etc. + Romanian gymnasts

I plan to see Aeros this weekend. It'll be interesting for me to compare it to a company I was in in NYC in the late '70s, called Musawwir Gymnastic Dance Ensemble. This group was founded by two former gymnasts (one a 6-time national floor exercise champion, and the other a high-bar champion). The group's intent was to include gymnastic technique in dance works as an extension of the range of dance movement. Sometimes it worked, and sometimes it didn't. I think it blended best in a long, group-choreographed piece that Jack Anderson in the NY Times reviewed very positively. I wish I could find the review.

Choreographer Terry Creach also performed with Musawwir, but before I joined it.

From what I've read about Aeros, I know they'll be doing a lot more gymnastic movement than Musawwir did, as two of the members of our company (I was one) didn't even start taking gymnastics classes until we were adults. I also predict, based on what I know of the choreographers for Aeros, that I'll prefer the choreography in Aeros (the artistic direction in our company was too conservative for my taste).

Author:  LMCtech [ Fri Jan 17, 2003 3:58 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Aeros: Parsons, etc. + Romanian gymnasts

Please let us know what you think, especially from an "insiders" point of view. I am fascinated.

Author:  djb [ Fri Jan 17, 2003 4:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Aeros: Parsons, etc. + Romanian gymnasts

LMCtech, lest you think I'm really an "insider," I should let you know that my gymnastics skills were minimal. However, since I started taking gymnastics classes because the idea of having to do a cartwheel in a dance piece terrified me, I guess I came pretty far.

<small>[ 17 January 2003, 05:26 PM: Message edited by: djb ]</small>

Author:  djb [ Sun Jan 19, 2003 3:09 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Aeros: Parsons, etc. + Romanian gymnasts

I'm too tired to write much about the performance tonight, but it was definitely worth seeing, and I enjoyed it very much. I was somewhat disappointed in the creative aspect of it - I kept seeing interesting concepts and thinking how much better it would have been had they been explored in depth. I also noticed certain things that reminded me very much of Alwin Nikolais' work, 30 years ago, except not as inventive.

It was fun trying to figure out which choreographer might have choreographed which sections. I saw parts that reminded me very much of Moses Pendleton's and David Parsons' choreography (I've never seen Daniel Ezralow's). I'd like to find out who did what and see whether I was correct. My brother thought the opening section was by David Parsons, because the effects with the lighting reminded him of Parsons' Caught.

The section that worked best for me was the four men trying to gain possession of two stools. Besides thinking that it was the best developed piece, I liked seeing the dancers doing something other than floor exercise, namely pommel horse moves. The black light sections also worked for me.

The sound score by TTG Music Lab was energetic but not memorable. Burke J. Wilmore's lighting design, however, contributed greatly to the success of the presentation.

I got a chuckle when the audience first reacted to something with a mass "whoa," because all it was was two people doing a series of fast cartwheels. This is the equivalent of a ballet audience being amazed by someone doing simple pique turns. It looks flashy, I guess, but I was thinking, "Come on, even I was able to do that!" However, what it did point out to me was how nice (and how much more interesting) even mundane movements look when performed by two or more people in unison (the Entrance of the Shades in La Bayadere is a good example).

In the company I was in, the real gymnasts (ex-gymnasts, actually) of the group were in their late 20's, and had had enough injuries that they were very careful to perform so as to minimize impact on their bodies. For that reason, we danced on gymnastics mats covered with carpet. For most of tonight's performance, I thought the gymnasts were performing on a regular stage floor, and I concluded they must be very young, because that would be punishing their bodies. But in the finale, which didn't have lighting patterns on the floor, I could see the floor give during the tumbling, so I knew they were performing on a regular gymnastics spring floor, and I was very relieved.

Despite not meeting my quite high expectations, Aeros was exciting and beautiful, and I have no reservations about recommending it. I tried to check ticket availability for the Sunday matinee at Zellerbach, and got a "code (4)" message, saying that tickets were not available on line at this time. I couldn't find out what code (4) is, so I don't know whether that means the performance is sold out or just that you can't order tickets online. My seat tonight was in the last row in the balcony, the only place in the cheap range where tickets were still available yesterday. There may have been seats elsewhere, but it looked sold out.

I have more comments, but I'll wait. Here's a link to the Aeros website

<small>[ 19 January 2003, 04:49 AM: Message edited by: djb ]</small>

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sun Jan 19, 2003 4:23 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Aeros: Parsons, etc. + Romanian gymnasts

Thanks a lot djb. "Aeros" caught my eye when it first came out to muted enthusiasm from the critics. I see that there have been changes sice then and it looks as though they have worked well.

Momix was a crucial stage in my dance education, so anything by Moses Pendleton catches my eye. The video on the website is a decent length at 2.30, if a little over-produced, and is a trailer for a film made for Bravo, a European arts channel.

I am always interested in accessible shows with good (or goodish) dance content as a possible way in for people. I guess it's possible it will come to London or at least that the video will be shown.

Author:  djb [ Sun Jan 19, 2003 4:54 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Aeros: Parsons, etc. + Romanian gymnasts

There isn't actually much non-gymnastic dance movement in Aeros, although the movements are structured and manipulated in a dancelike way.

One of the things that disappointed me was the fact that the movement vocabulary consisted mostly of stock gymnastic moves. This is what I was hoping would be a difference between Aeros and Musawwir, the group I was in. I remember one of our rehearsals in which one of the men (the highbar specialist) was experimenting and came up with the most amazing sequence of spinning and twisting around on his hands, with his legs flying everywhere. That made us go "whoa!" and we thought he should put this into his solo. But the director thought people would think he was trying to do some established gymnastics move and was messing it up. This was in the late '70s, around the time break dancing was starting to get very acrobatic. None of us had seen break dancing yet, but when I finally saw it, I realized that's just what this dancer had done. And it didn't get to go on stage!

Having seen Aeros, as exciting as it was, I'm more appreciative of what Musawwir was trying to do, that is, treating gymnastics as an expansion of dance movement. What would be fantastic is to see a company of performers who have the level of gymnastic expertise that the Aeros performers have, along with the best dance ability. But since both disciplines require so much effort, that's not likely to happen.

<small>[ 19 January 2003, 05:57 AM: Message edited by: djb ]</small>

Author:  Azlan [ Mon Jan 20, 2003 2:26 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Aeros: Parsons, etc. + Romanian gymnasts

A review by MEHunt:

'Aeros' revels in the power of the body

By Mary Ellen Hunt

The sheer physical excitement generated by "Aeros," a fantastical show comprised of 20 athletes from the Romanian Gymnastics Federation, was enough to bring awe-inspired gasps from the crowd at UC-Berkeley's Zellerbach Hall Friday night.
<a href= target=_blank>More</a>

Author:  djb [ Tue Jan 21, 2003 12:44 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Aeros: Parsons, etc. + Romanian gymnasts

From MEHunt's review:

In the most successful sections, the fascination of the director/choreographers with the elasticity and strength of the body -- especially the gymnast's body -- is palpable....For a choreographer, this must be like getting the best toy ever for Christmas.
She hit the nail on the head. Now, the problem with this is that the choreographers aren't gymnasts themselves, as far as I know. I suspect that when the choreographers asked the gymnasts to come up with a movements to fulfill their ideas, the gymnasts probably showed them straight gymnastics moves, and they were impressive enough that the choreographers were excited and maybe didn't think about trying to create some original movements, using the specific strengths of gymnasts. (This is all conjecture, of course; maybe limiting the choreography to standard moves was an artistic choice - but it sure wouldn't have been mine!)

When I saw John Curry's first ice dancing show, most of the choreographers (all from the dance world) did not come up with anything very creative - they just put ballet on ice, and threw in some standard skating steps. Twyla Tharpe did the best, I think. It appeared that she had good ideas, and probably really picked Curry's mind, as well. But the best, most inventive ice dancing I've seen was created by Christopher Dean. It makes sense, because he has a creative mind and personal knowledge of what can be done on ice.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Tue Jan 21, 2003 4:41 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Aeros: Parsons, etc. + Romanian gymnasts

That is an interesting comparison djb and mirrors the position when a modern dance choreographer is let loose on ballet dancers. Some are so bowled over by the technique they have at their disposal that the outcome is conventional. Whereas someone like Wayne McGregor in "Symbiont(s)" created something new and exciting using the potential of the Royal Ballet dancers, who clearly had a ball.

<small>[ 21 January 2003, 05:42 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>

Author:  mehunt [ Tue Jan 21, 2003 12:41 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Aeros: Parsons, etc. + Romanian gymnasts

Thanks, djb. Another thing that occurred to me, but which I didn't mention before, is that even for us non-gymnasts we've been watching competitions (often with good commentators) for so long now that I think we come to a show like this with a more knowledgeable eye.

Gymnastics is so popular, generally speaking, that more people probably know what a handspring front layout is than know what a double rivoltade is. So, while I was encouraged to think the Aeros audience was well-educated (even more so, possibly, than ballet audiences), I was still a little disappointed that, as you say, the skills they used were generally mundane ones. It was almost as if they were misjudging the experience level of their audience. (Does all that make sense? My head cold is still making my thoughts fuzzy!)

<small>[ 21 January 2003, 01:42 PM: Message edited by: mehunt ]</small>

Author:  Azlan [ Wed Jan 22, 2003 1:01 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Aeros: Parsons, etc. + Romanian gymnasts

My head cold is still making my thoughts fuzzy!
Another notable quote from MEHunt...

Author:  djb [ Wed Jan 22, 2003 1:31 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Aeros: Parsons, etc. + Romanian gymnasts

Dance audiences may be impressed by seeing gymnastics skills incorporated into dance, but I've witnessed a very different reaction by gymnasts. The director of Musawwir, the company I was with, had a solo that was very beautiful and always a hit with dance audiences. He didn't do any tumbling, except a couple of back handspring step-outs, but the gymnastic skills blended very well with the dance, and everything was done with a sense of movement and line that is virtually nonexistent in men's floor exercise. But when he performed the solo for gymnasts, the comments I heard from most of them showed them to be unimpressed, because he "didn't do anything." The dance aspect of it apparently meant nothing to them, just the tricks.

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