BWW Reviews: Blue Lapis Light's HEAVEN-EARTH-ONE is Heaven on Earth
I’m a cynic. Always have been, and probably always will be. When a cynic like yours truly is invited to a dance performance by a company whose mission is to provide “prayers for the planet,” I immediately expect the worst.
In the case of Blue Lapis Light’s HEAVEN-EARTH-ONE, I could not be more wrong. This is by far the most stunningly beautiful piece of theater, dance, and art that I’ve seen this season, and perhaps in my entire life.
The work, helmed by Blue Lapis Light’s Artistic Director, Sally Jacques, is a spectacular fusion of ballet, modern dance, and aerial art in which the performers strive to connect with heaven, earth, and each other. Whether or not you get that intention is irrelevant. You will be entertained nonetheless.
What makes HEAVEN-EARTH-ONE and all other Blue Lapis Light productions so unique is that it is “site specific,” meaning the entire piece is created and designed around the performance space. Here, the company uses the outdoor courtyard of the Long Center as their canvas. They convert the space into a dazzling stage involving ziplines, rigging, harnesses and silk ribbons, all hung from the Long Center roof and the suspended ring around the courtyard. What the rigging team, lead by Corey Fields and Barry Wilson, has created and installed for this show is quite remarkable and a technical marvel. The space is truly transformed, and instead of detracting from the natural aesthetics of the space, the temporary additions enhance it. The result is gorgeous. Jason Amato’s lighting design is equally impressive, especially when he plays with The Shadows of the performers, and William Meadow’s sound design remarkably keeps all of the music balanced, despite the potential problems of using both live and pre-recorded music in an outdoor space not built with acoustics in mind.
But of course what makes HEAVEN-EARTH-ONE truly engaging are the performers. The cast of twenty dancers are absolutely extraordinary and work collectively in such a way that it is impossible to discuss the performance of any of them specifically. They are all incredible technicians who excel at conveying emotions of love, loss, fear, anxiety, and the thirst for human connection. But more than that, they’re fearless. They dance on a suspended platform 30 feet off the ground. They zipline off the roof. They dance on suspended silks without a harness, and through all of it, they do so while turning in incredibly passionate and moving performances. Yes, you may have seen similar routines in other shows, particularly of the Cirque du Soleil variety, but none like this. The choreography, credited to the entire Blue Lapis Light company, is a complex, dangerous, and compelling mix of movement that wonderfully captures and mirrors the paradoxical strength and delicacy of the Long Center.
With HEAVEN-EARTH-ONE, Blue Lapis Light gives Austin a tailor-made show that is unique, remarkable, intimate, mesmerizing, and literally breathtaking. This is an event that must not be missed from a company that deserves to be known as a staple of the Austin arts scene.
Running time: Approximately 1 hour with no intermission.
HEAVEN-EARTH-ONE plays The Long Center on 9/12, 9/14-9/15, and 9/17-9/19 at 9pm. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.bluelapislight.org.