Monday, July 02, 2007

PLAY: "AntiGravity: The 2007 Tour"

Admittedly, I'm still a young'un, but watching the deft and fearless performers of AntiGravity soar, glide, slide, and hang from various contraptions in the air made me feel like a kid again. It's the giddy feeling of vicarious vertigo, the velocity of the vertiginous feats, and the rush of fresh air through the massive Hammerstein Ballroom as a performer does a mini-bungee onto a platform mere yards behind you, and then dances himself defiantly up into the air--the most graceful set of jerky movements you've ever seen.

That's how Christopher Harrison's "epic" compilation of sixteen years of work appears, too. While it's hardly gracefully put together--there's a lot of low-impact dance and minor acrobatics to stitch together the larger numbers--and while it's a little repetitive for a "best of" collection (the same high-hanging grips, but with bold new surfaces!), this is just a bit of turbulence, a jerky dip that leads, time after time after time, into--assuming heaven is still up, up, up--grace.

Narrative is replaced with atmosphere, and big bass-thumping beats from techno, pop, and modern music get the audience excited about what they're watching. The one issue is that the women, while excitingly scantily clad, aren't nearly as exciting to watch as the men, who--in addition to being able to hit the same vertical splits as the ladies--can also use physical strength to "defy" physics, as in the two show-stoppers, "Four Poster Fantasies" and "Strength Bruts." The former is a synchronized, three-dimensional gymnastic dance around a cube of poles that astonishes: when the women take to the cube, they're still far more talented than you or I, but their choreography takes on more of a pole dance. In the latter, two men do what is called an "acroduet," but is actually more like one man lifting the other as effortlessly as a five-pound weight (assume, for a moment, that this is effortless for you) and then using him to suspend yourself in awkward contortions that contradict all logic. (I'm given to hyperbole here: obviously they're obeying the push-and-pull of physics, but who would choose science over the Look-Ma-No-Strings-Attached approach?)

In comparison to these stripped-down pieces, AntiGravity actually uses a lot of props. Some, like a skit with Segways and roller-skates ("TechnoRiders on Cruise Control") have the feel of a parking lot taken over by teenagers. Others, like a spinning bungee-wheel ("Bungee Love") look like they'd be great to dare your friends to do on spring break. But the interlocking series of a metal frame, wire hula-hoops, and women spinning forty feet in the air ("Girl Power") or the sideways flips that happen when a wall comes between two trampolines ("X-Dream") are truly fantastic, taking on the surreal sense of a fantasy, tantalizingly aloft and just within reach.

They'll be back against in Spring 2008--what goes up out of NYC must come down into NYC. Given that scientific assurance, the only question left is: will you?

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