Dangling 20 feet in the air, using only upper-body strength to pull herself up the column of silk, Airin Dalton lets go and stops her fall with a well-placed foot wrapped in the fabric.
Dazzling aerial feats like this were showcased during Wednesday’s performance of “Kaleidescopika: The Art of Unfolding.”
The act combined music, dance and aerial acrobats in a well-directed show on par with performances such as Cirque du Soleil.
The most thrilling highlights of the show revolved around each of the aerialists spinning, twirling and dancing in mid-air.
Angela Buccinni and Yoni Kallai accompanied Dalton in their aerial stunts, which ranged from hand-to-hand transfers to higher up acrobatics, such as the silk column.
The curtain of silk was utilized throughout most of the aerialist moves, as both Dalton and Buccinni would climb up the 28 feet of fabric and intertwine themselves between each segment of the curtain.
They also brought out what Dalton called the aerial hoop – a large ring suspended by a cable.
Dalton and Buccinni would spin and move in and out of the ring, and even occasionally lay down during the performance.
The performer’s daredevil antics were further shown-off during the final piece before the end of the first act.
Mixing the powerful sound of the percussion against a torrent of dancers moving and twirling on the stage, Buccinni performed what she called bunging.
Strapped between two bungee strips, Buccinni bounced up and down, flinging herself higher above the stage, until she finally began to rapidly spin around the strips.
More impressive, however, was the fact that none of the aerialists were able to check the heights of their apparatuses.
Because of a lost luggage mishap during the journey from Buffalo, N.Y. to Eastern, none of the aerialist equipment could be tested until a few hours before the curtain rose.
“We couldn’t check the heights on the silks, but we were able to make sure everything was safe to use,” Buccinni said.
She also said the performers were able to get through the show by whispering directions to each other while on stage.
When the aerialists were not in the middle of amazing in-air gymnastics, the spotlight was on the deserving members of the Lehrer Dance company.
Scantily clad, each dancer performed gracefully across the stage, with very few noticeable mistakes.
Jon Lehrer, choreographer and owner of Lehrer Dance, said he wanted less clothing to accentuate the dancers’ muscles.
The band Cordis, a quartet that mixed chamber music with heavy rock and roll, supplied the music.
Moving from slow, methodical melodies on cello to hard-hitting percussion pieces helped transition each of the dances to a climactic end.
The ensemble featured cellist Jeremy Harman, Andrew Beall on percussion, pianist Brian O’Neill and Richard Grimes playing the cimbalom, an electric cymbal with origins in Hungary.
In addition to the music and dancers, the lights of the show added to the overall performance.
Interweaving hues of red, blue and green, the lights helped set the mood for each of the dances.
The whole performance transitioned as smoothly and gracefully as each of the dancers, with only a minor flaw.
During one of the pieces, Kallai dropped Buccinni, but was able to quickly recover and continue on with the act.
The act seemed to be created for a larger venue than the theater of the Doudna Fine Arts Center, however the performers were able to adapt well to the smaller venue.
Dwight Vaught, dean of Doudna, said the workers in Doudna pushed their resources to the limit for this production.
Over 280 different lights were set up on the stage to effectively illuminate the dancers and musicians, Vaught said.
The dancers in the Lehrer Dance company have been together for four years, and the idea of “Kaleidescopika” has been in the works for over 18 months.
The performance at Doudna was the first out of two stops for the touring dancers and musicians, as Thursday they will be in Detroit.
The group has not officially gone on tour yet, and this was a national preview tour, meaning Eastern was one of the first places to view the act.
The company will officially begin booking tours for the 2013-2014 season, and with Lehrer at the helm, “Kaleidescopika” will be a force to be reckoned with.
Bob Galuski can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]