AMEBA Dance Company specializes in integrating trapeze and other aerial elements into more traditional choreography. “On the Rise” is a showcase for its hybrid art, demonstrating both its expressive potential and the challenges involved in bringing together two disparate forms of training and movement. On the one hand, Andrew Adams and Erika Gilfether perform the breathtaking “Up and Down.” This piece, featuring aerial straps, manages simultaneously to provide moments of sheer physical display, as when Adams rolls himself up and down the straps, and to put these moments within a larger emotional context. Sensual and passionate, “Up and Down” centers on physical and emotional connection between the two performers. On the other hand, too much of the other work in “On the Rise,” even when it provokes respect for the dancers’ athletic gifts, fails to use those gifts to create genuinely integrated works. For instance, “La Memoria” places two dancers on trapezes as apparently superfluous additions to a perfectly respectable piece of modern dance. The overly kitschy clowning of Cat Dean, a formidable presence on stilts but a less certain one on the ground, adds to the uncertain overall impression. With “On the Rise,” AMEBA shows that it has something to add to Chicago’s dance and movement scene; stronger discipline in choosing and executing material will help them realize that potential. (John Beer)
This production is now closed.