A-WOL Dance’s Cirque Du Soleil-esque show Art in the Dark is like something you might see in a wild dream.
Set among the trees of West Linn’s Mary S. Young park, dancers are suspended from branches by rope, aerial silks, trapeze and hoops. They vigorously propel their bodies up and down the fabric yet still move with beautiful fluidity and grace.
Intricately winding the fabric around their bodies, the audience gasps when they let go, spinning downward and catching themselves just before the fabric runs out.
Inspired by The Twilight Zone, the four-act performance follows four distinct storylines. The first, “Saturn Rings,” begins with a man’s voice speaking to a psychoanalyst about his recent illusions, including spinning chairs, alluring women and strange abilities he never knew he had. The glitter-covered performers wear elaborate costumes in shades of red, black and white, and they use props that incorporate themes from his illusions.
The second act, “Disconnect,” is about a woman who cannot communicate with those around her. It grows a bit monotonous toward the end, but that’s forgotten by the third act, “Mirror Image,” which opens with two women dancing from two connected hoops. It one of the evening’s most mesmerizing spectacles. The nearly identical duo show off their impossibly long limbs while posing and spinning on the rotating hoops, alternating between mirroring one another’s movement and connecting as if they were one body.
The last act begins on an unfortunately hokey note, with a narrator explaining that dancers have been told they will all vanish at 9 o’clock. This high-energy act has multiple dancers on each silk, making for an awe-inspiring yet abrupt finale. It’s also the only act well-lit enough to take in the full spectrum of the production. (The blue and dim orange lighting of earlier acts is eerie and surreal, but it also masks the performers.)
With the scenic outdoor setting and successful fusion of contemporary dance and the aerial arts, A-WOL pulls off a refreshing and entertaining show that will leave you questioning the laws of physics.