Review: Aerials at the Haugh

The aerial light show Quixotic performed on April 1 at the Haugh Performing Arts Center. The performance included acrobatics, ballet, LED lights and music. Photo by Kathryn Hayes, courtesy of Quixotic

The word Quixotic means incredibly idealistic. Like its name, Quixotic: Gravity of Center showcased a romantic sensation of acrobatics, ballet and aerial performance on April 1 at the Haugh Performing Arts Center.

Every acrobat, dancer, balancer and contortionist gave an emotional and tension-filled production fusing light and technology into a dazzling vision.

A violin’s passionate melody narrated the entwined performances of ballet dancers and aerialists’ magnificent stunts. On top of that, the collaboration of LED lights and visually interactive screens created a multi sensory experience.

One act began with a couple. The man played a central character who battled between lightness and darkness. Levity was personified as a woman clad in a white leotard with matching white skirt. Both executed breathtaking acrobatic lifts and turns while the piano’s dark and somber tune influenced their synchronized movements. However, their dance choreography livened up and the stage brightened as the violinist entered. Another woman personified Gravity, as the opposite of Levity. Unlike the latter, Gravity was clothed in black and became the focus of the man’s attention. He lifted and spun her into complicated arabesques. Hanging upside down on a suspended hoop, he held his arms out and swung her up into the air where audiences gasped at their intense flips and twirls.

“I had to remind myself to breathe,” audience member Colleen Windham-Hughes, one of three professors who visited from California Lutheran University, said. “I was holding my breath. It was so amazing. I was just transfixed.”

Quixotic had three main characters.

“We have Gravity, the dark character, Levity is the light character and we have a central character,” violinist Shane Booth said.

The protagonist was played by trapeze artist Oliver Parkinson. He represented man’s bond between the force of gravity. Lifting weights is part of his daily routine in order to flip his partner, Megan Stockman who played Gravity, from the ground into midair. To prepare for the role, Parkinson said they had been training as partners for 18 months.

“My role is Levity, which is the light character. It’s more of a loose storyline in the struggle between dark and light. So, my character’s role is to remind the main character to turn towards the light”, said ballet dancer Rachel Coats.

Ballet dancer Ryan Jolicoeur-Nye described the whole performance as a “theme of struggle and figuring out a way to balance life harmoniously.”

In addition to composing most of the Quixotic’s music, Booth said, “I’m kind of the show and tell guy. I walk around and introduce all the different acts. I’ll bring out each person that’s doing a specialty act and introduce them to the crowd. I’m more of the fourth wall breaker.”

True to his word, Booth’s live violin score played in the background as a woman took center stage. With her back facing a white silk screen, her right hand extended to her right and a white ball of light appeared. As she picked it up, it transformed into a fireball that reflected her every move while she danced. The ball immediately morphed into rain as drums beat against the music. Throughout the performance, LED lights danced with her and shined towards its audience in sync with the music.

Overall, it was a mesmerizing experience of humanity’s devotion to the ground and their desire to defy gravity.