Saturday, September 21, 2019

Sorry Gold review: An intoxicating and profound aerial epic

Emily Aoibheann's extraordinary aerial dance brings us from the heights of civilisation to its wreckage.  Photo: Eoin Kirwan 

Project Arts Centre - Space Upstairs, Dublin Fringe Festival
★ ★ ★ ★ ★

On a bare stage rigged for performance, with cables extending high to the ceiling, five women exchange quiet normal words. One of them discovers a brilliant red fabric in Emily Aoibheann's extraordinary aerial dance Sorry Gold, and examines it closely, as if pondering a question for the art form itself: What meanings do the silks hold? 

Aoibheann has brought us far from the virtuosic spectacles and high-flying stunts after Cirque du Soleil. Her aerial dance Object Piggy was a compelling Bauhaus-style experiment, its alchemy of gesture and tech showing the human body liberated through science. She has since described aerial as “the dance of industrial technology”. 

Sorry Gold is an aerial dance about civilisation. Portals open in an everyday world and transport us somewhere deeper. Gav Xmas’s stunning lighting creates a large doorway, within which the red silk levitates into the air. 

From that silk, Lena Selivanova extends in slow and seductive gestures, against the braided harmonies of Michelle O’Rourke’s captivating song. It’s a lavish solo of refined taste and controlled movement. If we’ve slipped into some inner life of the world, where rose pink and harvest yellow silks pop with symbolism, this seems to be its peak.

Such intoxicating images, choreographed by Aoibheann in collaboration with the company, start to become more freighted. Her own solo has kinetic spins that are far more agitated. Tori McGrory clings to her cloth, agonising with dependency, before being smothered by it. We sink into a Stygian underworld in the production's meticulous sound design, bubbling with water as the bright colours of this aerial epic are stripped to black. 

As the aerial dance descends through darker depths, it finds its most stirring choreography. Ariadna Vendelova athletically and powerfully contorts into foot hangs, as if under the thrall of the silk. At one point, Monika Palova hovers lifeless. Sombre and despairing, these aerialists aren’t your spangled circus acrobats. 

Falling tragically from the heights of civilisation to its wreckage, it ends on a profound note. In a Beckettian mire, aerialist’s are out of reach of their equipment, but something new is unearthed from below the water. Who knows what meaning the next silk will hold. What’s touching is that there is a next silk.

Runs until Sep 21

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