A “choreographed gymnastics show” is how the presenters describe “Aeros,” a touring troupe from Romania. But that’s like calling “South Pacific” a mere military show. In for a three-week run at the New Victory, “Aeros” is not just a group of talented acrobats but an astounding display of visual movement.
Hour-long program is divided into 19 brief scenes, separated by blackouts. Striking effects abound from the opening vision, a darkened stage with 15 bodies silhouetted against a deep blue scrim. The bodies scamper around like so many insects; at one point they seem to be aardvarks and anteaters, then they become multi-legged beetles that break apart and split in two. Finally, they come together in a clump, like one of those kid’s toys with a magic wand and a bunch of magnetic shavings. Then they suddenly split to form the title — “Aeros” — not simply by holding up their hands but as full, three-bodied letters.
This tableaux is held for a matter of seconds, just long enough to read, before it disappears into darkness. From that moment on, “Aeros” keeps the entire house in thrall.
Highlights include acts in which two pairs of legs draped in white — with bodies, heads and arms hidden — seem to be doing scissor kicks; another with four muscle men in bathing suits lackadaisically doing handstands on a table, which is for some reason both delightful and funny (especially the final fillip with the upended fellows suddenly twinkling their toes); and an ocean-like scene with acrobats catapulting above the waves like so many flying fish.
Most startling is a black-light segment in which the upside-down acrobats — dressed in fluorescent white bodysuits — become a parade of walking lamb chops. Once again, we seem to be watching animated figures, with outlines of the body impossible to discern. The cast seems to spend about a quarter of the time standing on their hands, a fifth of the time walking on their heads, and an eighth of the time in midair altogether.
The 16-person troupe, finishing a three-month U.S. tour, is drawn from the Romanian Gymnastics Federation. We don’t know what’s in the water over there, but this is an impressive group of youngsters. (Nine of them are under 21, the eldest a withered old 28.)
“Aeros” has creative ties to Pilobolus, Momix and “Stomp.” Choreographers Daniel Ezralow, David Parsons and Moses Pendleton use the bodies as automatons. There are a few solo or duo spots, but just about everyone looks alike; clean, trim, and not a tattoo in sight (a rarity nowadays).
Luca Missoni, of the Italian fashion house, has designed a striking assortment of track suits, bathing suits and body suits. While the vertical lines don’t resemble muscles and veins, they do suggest lean musculature. The lighting design, by Giancarlo Toscani, is similarly striking. The gymnasts, choreographers and designers combine to make “Aeros” a continually striking visual feast.