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Aerial Dance Work 'In Light' Aims For Hope And Transformation

“This piece is called In Light, and it’s really the exploration which I have been doing for many, many years – the human journey on the earth in these times,” says Sally Jacques, the artistic director of Blue Lapis Light. “So it deals with our human experiences and then the possibility of transformation.”

Jacques and her team of dancers, aerialists, technicians, and safety experts have produced many site-specific aerial dance works over the years, and their latest work, In Light, will be performed on the IBC bank building this month. Like all Blue Lapis Light shows, this one has the goal of bringing a little more hope and beauty into the world. 

“And particularly in these times, with so much chaos and devastation and ongoing climate and environmental issues,” Jacques says. “In the point of chaos, there’s always stillness and beauty. And you can find that whether it’s in nature or whether it’s something you do in your house… there is that place that you can come to that connects you to the possibility of change and how we can create and breed a world that is different from what we’re sort of normalizing now.”

Blue Lapis Light’s works are always site-specific, meaning they’re choreographed with the performance location in mind and are uniquely suited to that setting. They’re also performed on the outside of the building rather than inside the space – the dancers perform in harnesses, suspended high above the audience.

“So when they’re dancing, they’re really backdropped against the sky,” Jacques says. “They look as though they’re just floating in space. And then we also have [Chinese] poles on the ninth floor, and then we’re also doing a counter-balance system, and we have an ensemble and then we have rappellers… all the different areas of the building [have] a movement conversation happening.”

Jacques says that works like hers pose challenges not just in choreography, but in engineering and safety as well. “There are all of these physics and challenges and engineering challenges that we face,” she says. “And of course safety. We work with an incredible team of riggers that we’ve been working with for many years.”

The site-specific nature of the work creates other challenges, too. Since Jacques is using many parts of the building in this work, the dancers on one side can’t actually see what’s happening on the other. “I’m playing with space, juxtaposing space, so rappellers are coming here while there’s a duet right [on] the other side of the building and a duet in the middle. None of them can see each other,” she says. “It’s an interesting challenge. And so it’s a conversation that happens between these areas of the building. And each choreography… has a context to the human experience. For me, it really is important that the work tells a story. This piece is really about hope and transformation.”

'In Light' will be performed September 19 - 29 at the IBC Bank building in downtown Austin.

Mike is the production director at KUT, where he’s been working since his days as an English major at the University of Texas. He produces Arts Eclectic, Get Involved, and the Sonic ID project, and also produces videos and cartoons for When pressed to do so, he’ll write short paragraphs about himself in the third person, but usually prefers not to.
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