[DANCE] "Try lifting your feet up now and letting yourself hang," yells Daniel Addy to me, suspended by a hip harness in a metal cage high above the ground. Addy, the 37-year-old pixie standing far below me in the warehouse he uses as a practice space, is the artistic director of AVIATORaerialdance, one of a few airborne dance companies in the country. He's in a bit of free fall himself, since his "day job" as one of ripe's Family Supper hosts just vanished into thin air, along with a good chunk of the ripe empire (see Murmurs, page 13).
But at the moment, food is far from his mind. At least that's my hope, since my life is literally hanging in his hands. Addy has assured me that his dance group has never had an accident, and that the harnesses and hooks he uses could suspend more than 60 times the weight of his dancers and metal props.
Since the cage, which will be used in Addy's latest work, 22°HALO, is hanging from the ceiling, and I'm hanging from the cage, picking up my feet lets me spin and move about, separate from the cage itself. The ever-patient Addy stresses that merely hanging without movement makes for beautiful sculpture, but that spinning is what gives aerial dance integrity.
Addy started dancing 10 years ago, working with local groups including the now-defunct aero/betty. It was after his experience with aero/betty that Addy started AVIATOR. Addy had often felt artistically stifled as child, and was inspired by aerial dance because he "had no rules" when suspended in the air.
Freedom and its opposites—control, confinement, constraint—are just a few themes at work in 22°HALO, showing in the atrium of Wieden & Kennedy this week. The name refers to an atmospheric phenomenon that occurs when light, 22 degrees from the sun or moon, refracts though ice crystals in the air to create a halo. The science behind the name is less important to Addy than its poetic interpretation.
"I'm obsessed with these Pablo Neruda kinds of words," he says.
Divided into two acts, 22°HALO includes installations (a man hangs between two walls creating a 10-foot-wide spiderweb), ground work (three dancers with no harnesses exploring their ability to move while gripping a rope) and aerial movement (a woman suspended among clotheslines, struggling to grasp falling white linen garments).
With so much emphasis on air, I asked Addy why he calls his artform dance and not performance art, since dance is intrinsically connected to the ground.
"I remember this feeling when I started to dance...being completely overwhelmed because the possibilities were endless," he says. "I felt shut down because everyone already had relationships to the floor. Where I'm going with my aerial work is to continue that relationship of confinement, but to bring a narrative to it."
Dance or not, this performance is a rare and beautiful phenomenon not to be missed. Just look up.
Weiden & Kennedy Atrium, 224 NW 13th St., (971) 506-7054. 8:30 pm Friday-Sunday, May 12-14. $12-$15.