ABOVE: "DOGLEG FREEZE", Shannon Technique 2007, Serbia
I have been writing about this aerial work recently because it is the signature of pace and form in my dancing that I have contributed to the history of aerial choreography via the Cirque Du Soleil mothership of all things aerial. I feel I must write about my contribution here, in this public way, to preserve for the future the significance and importance of what i have given to Cirque Du Soleil as a "creative." I fear that if I dont tell my end of the story as the choreographer of the Aerial Strap Act in Varekai performed by The Atherton Twins, Kevin and Andrew Atherton, noone will.
This, virtual absence of information has been made abundantly clear tome in the most indirect of ways by those involved in the process. It may not be intentional but given the circumstances, my writing this is a recording of an important part of what the piece is. Notice when watching Varekai, the strap act stands apart from everything else in the show in terms of choreography on a stylistic level. It is crisp striking freezes and shapes that are held for a beat sometimes longer. The pacing of the act is so entirely different from the history of aerial acts at Cirque that its hard to explain until you di as I have done during the creaqtive process and raided cirques video library for every aerial act you could find. This divergent pacing, combined with the twins acrobatic and choreographic influences really makes the piece what it is today an outright masterpiece. Again I will reiterate, from past posts that this is the only cirque aerial act with a hiphop influence coming out of the "tut" and "tic-toc" style of the mid eighties. In a sense, the work reflects the Aerial Skater Form, Threaded Tic-Tocing Tuts and my signature Glide manifested during the brief floor parts where the Twins use the straps to lift only an inch off the floor to glide. These influences on my choregraphic vision have been pushed through the twins later addition of classicist form rooted in ballet and modern. Yet even their interpretations have been pulled toward the root aesthetic of the overriding style of the work. This is why I have quickly posted up this picture of a "DogLeg Freeze" I ran across recently. I feel that the image represents a crystallization of the aerial aesthetic my dancing revolves around. "The DogLeg" has variations including the 360 , 540 and Fingerflip. Notice the angular leg style and how it is so close to the aerial choreography work I did for Cirque Du Soleil. The twins have taken this basic style and over the years run with it in a different direction than I would have choreographed. Yet, the rhythm and style I created through the early choreography with them remains intact. The improvement they have made on their use of centrifical force is absolutely fantastic and their acro has only gotten better. They deserve credit for smoothing out the act to a seamless sequence and they have had the time to really hone it to a finite degree. I want to visit the show and see it again in respect to their process as it keeps growing and evolving...Like a living creature. Awesome and beautiful. Finally, speaking of beautiful, there is also the issue of the work having a "homerotic subtext." In my opinion there are several contributing factors to this fact. First of all one only need look to other projects the twins have appeared in to see that this subtext exist no matter what they do together. They are two men, brothers indeed, who are close to one another physically. They are the perfect form of balance between muscle and form and the holds and combinations of postions could at times be construed as suggestive. In my collaboration with them the homoerotic subtext became readily apparent to me when the costumes were donned and the music changed. To express a threaded tut style to the beat of hardstep electro (which is what music I choreographed it to until we had the final show composition) while wearing track suits was way far from wearing leather and feathers and flying through the air to a flute. I also think execution is an important contributing factor. When a street dancer hits a tut it is a hard hit on the edge of the beat whereas if a classically rooted dancer expresses a tut softly to a soft beat the whole feeling of the movement changes. Then the fact that tutting ultimately grew out of vogueing which is a gay competitive dance style is also significant. When I read the comments on you tube about this aspect of the work it amazes me how people argue about it but then in the end are like WHO CARES, its amazing. I think ultimately thats how I feel about it. It was not my intention, nor do I believe it was twins, yet there it is. If you have not seen Varekai and it comes to your town it is a definite must see. I have not yet begun to dig into the details of the other element of the show I worked on, The Solo on Crutches aka "Limping Angel."
ABOVE: "CROSSED-UP HEEL-HOLD NO-NOHANDED ROTATION" Shannon Technique, NYC 2003