'Aeros' a near-miracle of illusion

April 17, 2008 11:59:14 AM PDT
Sixteen young male and female gymnasts are featured in "Aeros," none easy to identify. The lights are usually low and the performers often appear in shadow or behind painted screens, like silhouettes, their bodies made of water.

Running for 17 days at the New Victory Theater, "Aeros" doesn't inspire gasps or loud applause, but does tease a growing appreciation of form and movement, the many becoming one, the one many. It's as simple and as unified as sit-ups in assembly line precision, or the cast hurrying into small groups and contorting until it spells the magic word, "AEROS."

A 70-minute performance guided by three directors-choregraphers (Daniel Ezralow, David Parsons and Moses Pendleton), "Aeros" strings together 19 self-defining pieces, such as "Stretch" and "Handstands." In "Flowers," a circle of gymnasts bends forward, then arches back, like petals closing and opening. "Table" includes a real table, and four male performers, bare-chested, resembling businessmen at a game of all-night poker.

The feel is fluid, classical, but the look and sound is modern. Except for the costumes in "Dresses," the clothes could have been borrowed from your neighborhood gym - warm-up suits, tank tops, stretch pants. The prerecorded music emphasizes beat over melody, whether postindustrial noise, or reggae and hip-hop.

"Aeros" uses few special effects, but the whole show is a near-miracle of illusion. When performers approach from opposite sides of the stage, they seem to glide not past each other, but through each other. In one sketch, two dancers so perfectly mimic each other that it's hard to tell whether you're seeing a duet or simply a solo star and her reflection.

"Aeros" will be at the New Victory through April 27.