Aeros

Watching Olympic athletes perform within the structures of their various disciplines is awe-inspiring. Sitting through their attempt to display their skills within a dubious theatrical dance environment is an exercise in tedium. World renowned modern dance choreographers Daniel Ezralow (ISO Dance Theatre), David Parson (the Parson Dance Co.) and Moses Pendleton (MOMIX) have collaborated with "Stomp" creators Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas to shape the physical grace of 18 world-class athletes into a supposedly "soaring evening of entertainment." The only thing amazing about "Aeros" is the realization that all this talent has gone into this presentation for so little effect.

Watching Olympic athletes perform within the structures of their various disciplines is awe-inspiring. Sitting through their attempt to display their skills within a dubious theatrical dance environment is an exercise in tedium. World renowned modern dance choreographers Daniel Ezralow (ISO Dance Theatre), David Parson (the Parson Dance Co.) and Moses Pendleton (MOMIX) have collaborated with “Stomp” creators Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas to shape the physical grace of 18 world-class athletes into a supposedly “soaring evening of entertainment.” The only thing amazing about “Aeros” is the realization that all this talent has gone into this presentation for so little effect.

It doesn’t matter how many creative inspirations are involved, there needs to be a central point of view that transcends the skill and creates art. What is painfully clear is that no matter how talented the choreographer, athletes are not dancers or actors. Perfectly executed vaults, flips and somersaults offer fleeting moments of physical beauty that can be appreciated for the sheer virtuosity of the performer. But these well-honed physical dexterities are not inherently viable expressions of emotional, aesthetic or intellectual communication.

The production attempts to evoke scenarios that never reach fruition. Fueled by the pulsating electronic score of TTB Music Lab and the live percussion talents of Matt Scanlon, the full ensemble leaps and flips its way into an impressive display of physical virtuosity that ultimately defeats itself by its unrelenting repetitiveness and lack of sensual connection.

Gathered around a card table, four insecure men (Cristian Moldovan, Claudiu Varlan, Cozmin Bogdan and Remus Nicolai) challenge each other to a machismo display of one upmanship that never evolves beyond their individual abilities to perform a one-armed handstand on a flimsy piece of furniture. Clad in flowing skirts, Gabriela Hreban and Ancuta Goia perform a physically adroit pas de deux that certainly explores their floor exercise skills but never establishes why they are dressed the way they are and what they have to do with one another.

The most frustrating aspect of the production is the utter lack of emotional interaction amongst the troupe. This is obviously apparent in the second act pairing of Moldovan and Lacramioara Filip in a duet that promotes their individual abilities to perform complex gymnastic maneuvers on each other’s bodies, but completely ignores their sexuality.

There is one ongoing attempt to highlight the absurdities of a boy/girl courtship as an unrelenting flower-baring Lucian Alexa bombards a completely disinterested Madalina Gogitu with his amorous intentions. But it becomes quickly apparent that this chase is more gymnastic than amorous.

The creators of “Aeros” may have envisioned a new incarnation of Cirque de Soleil or “Riverdance” but until they develop a viable dramatic point of view they are going to have to be satisfied with a plethora of well-executed backflips for their own sake. And that is just not enough.

Aeros

Royce Hall, UCLA; 1,800 seats; $35 top

Production

A UCLA Performing Arts presentation of a performance piece in two acts featuring athletes from the Romanian Gymnastics Federation, directed by Daniel Ezralow, David Parson and Moses Pendleton in collaboration with Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas. Executive producers, John Luckacovic and Aldo Scrofani.

Creative

Sets, Andres Jackness and Michael Curry; lights, Howell Binkley; costumes, Ann Hould-Ward; music and sound, TTG Music Lab; projections, Michael Clark; percussion, Matt Scanlon; vocals, Mihaela Pohoara. Opened Jan. 11, 2001, reviewed Jan. 13; closes Jan. 28 (Jan. 23, 24 at California Center for the Arts, Escondido). Running time: 1 HOUR, 45 MIN.

Cast

Ensemble: Lucian Alexa, Mariana Apostu, Daniel Babanas, Cozmin Bogdan, Aurelia Ciurea, Lacramioara Filip, Madalina Gogitu, Ancuta Goia, Emilia Hantulie, Gabriela Hreban, Izabela Lacatus, Daniela Maranduca, Emilia Marin, Cristian Moldovan, Vasile Filip Mutean, Remus Nicolai, Mihaela Pohoata, Mirela Rusu, Toader Tomoiaga, Claudiu Varlam.
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