'I'm always looking up': Sally Jacques on Blue Lapis Light's latest aerial dance performance
Blue Lapis Light, the aerial dance company founded by Sally Jacques in 2005, has always specialized in site-specific works. Their dancers don’t perform in building but on them, with aerialists suspended high above the audience, dancing on the sides of buildings, warehouses, power plant stacks – any location that catches Jacques’ eye and inspires her.
Because of that, she says, it’s hard to view a building without thinking about choreography. “I'm always looking up,” she says. The seed of the idea that would become Blue Lapis was planted years ago when Jacques was travelling in Europe. “It started when I was in Rome and in Spain,” she says, “but in Rome in particular, I was just wandering around and I was looking at all these giant gargoyles and statues up there and I thought, I wonder what it would be like to have dancers on buildings. That was years and years ago and it seeded, you know. And then years later I'm doing it. So I think that a lot of artists or thinkers or philosophers, something seeds in them… that makes you want to explore. And you don't really know where that journey will take you.”
This fall, it’s taken her to 5000 Plaza on the Lake, the location for Blue Lapis Light’s latest work, Belonging II Universe. It’s a continuation of last year’s Belonging, and explores some of the same themes as that earlier work. “Belonging II Universe explores… our connectivity and our relationships with the global community and our natural world,” Jacques says. “We are part of the universe. And if we open our hearts to its wisdom and seek knowledge, our collective energies have the potential to awaken and transform the world as we know it and create one that is based in unity, compassion and peace.”
The setting for Belonging II might not be as immediately familiar to audiences as some of Blue Lapis’ other locations have been, but Jacques says it’s a perfect venue for the work she wants to share. “It is a beautiful setting,” she says. “You can view the water from the buildings and there's a huge area to sit and just breathe. It's really, really tranquil. And there are two buildings with one arch, and on the arch we have aerial silks and on the buildings, we have two groups of dancers. So there's six on one and eight on the other. And also we have… film and projections done by Chris Rusch with archival footage from Turk Pipkin. So there's this relationship going on between what's going on in our world, the transformation through movement and the physicality of that relationship in our world and the possibility of transforming what we are doing.”