Aera's Covered Sky

Aera's Covered Sky is one of the most creative dance performances I've seen this year: entertaining, evocative, and with plenty of surprising moments. Covered Sky is like a poem; in fact the story started with a poem:

Let go, fall in, tear away.
The moonlight mouth speaks the babble of that calling.
Float down to the bottom.
Nothing else points here.
A fire burns.
Do you like what you see?

Artistic director, Kyle McBeth and choreographers, Kyra Johannesen and Jen James Martin collaborated to create their first NYC premiere of Covered Sky, which ran from July 24 to July 28 at New York Live Arts. 

"We always start with the story," said Kyra.  "Then we add the music, choreography and other elements."

"We prefer for the audience to have their own take on the story," said Kyle. "That makes it more of a personal experience."

For me, the piece was a moody exploration of the multiple relationships in our lives, expressing the exhiliration, the doubt, and the tension between people as their knowing of each other evolves. Each member of the cast had unique strenths, and I particularly enjoyed the interplay between the male and female dancers.

Aera's overview says they aim to "expand the performance environment by creating a unique shared experience with our audience." They use fabric, pole and rope to "create a multifaceted experience of performance art." I look forward to seeing what Aera comes up with next.

Dancers Lara Michaels, Rommel Pier O'Choa, Dalijah Franklin, Elaina Royter, Alison Wardell, Joshua Dean, Tatiana DePillo, Angel Reed, Josh Taylor and Airin Dalton  

Schtick A Pole In It

I’m not sure why Joanna Ross decided to combine stand-up comedy with pole dancing for her Schtick A Pole In It event, but the two things complement each other unexpectedly well, as I found out at R Bar on Saturday.

Lara Michaels photo by Yuri Kubota

Lara Michaels, the first dancer, walked on in a black sequined bikini top and shorts.  Lara’s height and classical ballet training make her pole moves elegant and flowing.  She folded into and stretched away from the pole like a glittering orchid.

The show was full of visually stunning moments and also a lot of laughs.  My favorite comedian of the night, Rob Cantrell told jokes about cats and books.

“Do you like animals?” he asked.

When the audience roared in approval, he said, “Of course you do, unless you’re a dick.”

“Do you know what I like about cats?” he asked.  “They purr.  They’re in touch with the Universe so they know they’re safe and they just start vibrating in ecstasy.  Wouldn’t it be great if people did that?  If you saw your friend vibrating by the bar, you’d think this is a good time to hit him up for $50.”

He described libraries as slutty versions of bookstores.  “If you go into a bookstore, you buy one book for $25.  That one book is only yours.  It’s just for you.  If you go into a library and see a book you want, the librarian says, 'Take it.  Everyone’s read it.  Just bring it back when you’re done with it.'”

“These are not strippers,” Joanna told the audience.

“They don’t take their clothes off,” yelled an audience member.

“Also, they don’t text while they’re on stage,” said Joanna.

Photo by Schtick A Pole In It

Brynlyn Loomis walked in like a golden fantasy with birdwing-long eyelashes.  Her moves were so sexy that men sitting nearby told each other to, "Look at that," and audibly moaned.

Wendy Traskos, owner of NYPD, gave a feisty performance, making gunshot sounds by slamming her shoes into the wooden floor and ending with a back flip.

The final performance was a double act called GabriAnna, featuring Gabrielle Valliere and Anna Grundstrom.  Wearing men’s jackets and hats, they danced to “Hey Big Spender,” sometimes moving in synchronization, then twisting around each other, and finally bringing on comedian Dan Goodman to give him a double lap dance.

Dan Goodman is Joanna’s boyfriend and they both made jokes about recently moving in together. Even if Dan and Joanna may not agree about all the finer points of living together, such as whether forks belong under sofa cushions, they share the notion that pole dancing and comedy go together.  The line of people who came to see the sold out show seemed to support this idea.

The next Schtick A Pole In It will be on February 23 at R Bar.  Get there early if you want to get in.