Performance art pieces, in general, can be thrilling to behold, whether they break new ground, or simply retrace the steps made by others in new and innovative (or deeply personal and fascinating) ways. The idea of combining dance, theatre, and clown with music to portray emotional journeys and the struggle of gender roles sounds so exciting! And it could be…if Aerial Allusions was a different show.
From the moment Jaz Morneau began his opening monologue/stream of consciousness (I wasn’t sure if it was improvised or written) I was worried. His diatribe on the world at large was better set for an Occupy New York symposium for 20-somethings than an art piece on gender dynamics. What followed was a brief, entertaining moment of dance work by Azana, and it seemed that perhaps it was moving along toward something with burlesque overtones – which would have been enjoyable. In fact, most of the moments when Azana danced solo were interesting to watch, and it might have been much better production overall. Unfortunately the piece tries so hard to make a statement about the human condition and our lack of empathy for the opposite sex, that it gets in its own way via monologues/streams of consciousness that are uninteresting and without passion behind them. It ends up coming off as a pretentious piece that is a shadow of what talent Azana seems to have in her movement (as shown by the tormented dance scene that she has after being beaten, which was actually quite lovely). The rest of the production, outside of the above mentioned scene, simply mimicked the first half, with the gender roles reversed.
I wanted very much to like this show, and I know the performers were dancing their hearts out. For that I give them credit. It is the presentation of the piece, which was strangely dispassionate for dance performance art, cobbled together with the illusion that what they have said is somehow enlightening, that I question.
~~~Aerial Allusions Company: AGAWA SAPPHIRE By Azana Productions Mar 03, 2:30PM $15.00 The Kraine Theater