“Spring Forward” to Bring Aerial Dance to Richmond’s Grace St. Theater
A soaring performance of high-flying proportions is coming to Richmond this weekend. North Carolina’s Caroline Calouche and Company are bringing their aerial dance show to The Grace Street Theatre May 4th and 5th for their presentation of “Spring Forward”. The show, which combines contemporary dance with aerial ballet, features a small ensemble performing with various tools and aerial contraptions, including a hanging metal cube and bungee chords.
The show consists of four shorter performances with a variety of different dancers, and then a longer work, Free To Live, a contemporary performance that infuses the company’s original aerial structures. Director Caroline Calouche said has been two years in the making.
Free To Live is more than just a visual performance, with its meaning going much deeper, explained Calouche. “It’s based on the basic broad question of what does it mean to be free,” she said, saying the idea came to her because of personal life experiences.
With her family from Lebanon, Calouche says that her relation to the Middle East taught her a lot about the meaning of freedom. “I went over there to visit in 2004 and saw how the government worked. I mean you don’t see military hanging out on the street corners in America… That was a big eye opener for me, and that has just stuck with me and kept me questioning: ‘what is freedom?’”
One thing that makes this performance unique is Richmond’s absence of aerial dance. This performance proves to be something different than any given dance show, according to Calouche, with more than half of the dancing taking place in the air. Aerial dancing is a style that originated in the circus, with tightrope walking, the trapeze, stilts, and other stunt-like performances. “Then the dance world kind of took hold of it and wanted to see if we could expand upon it as far as incorporating more themes, versus just doing trick after trick,” Calouche explained, also noting that Cirque du Soleil was a big innovator of the idea of adding themes to performances.
But like any circus show, putting on an aerial performance isn’t easy. “It’s very challenging for dancers, whether they’re coming from an aerial background or a dance background, and in this show we have both,” Calouche clarified. “I and another dancer have had dance backgrounds, and the two other girls with us have had musical theatre and gymnastics situations, and so teaching dancers how to do both is difficult.”
Calouche also explained that finding a theatre suitable for the show is another difficulty. “Luckily the Grace Street Theatre is a black box theatre that allows us to have multiple points of rigging. Finding a theatre space like that is always a challenge,” she said, which adds another plus for Richmonders.
The show debuts May 4th at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are on sale online at http://arts.vcu.edu/
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