Crossing Thresholds: The Air Between Us - Reviewed by Tanya Piejus | Regional News Connecting Wellington

Photo by Oliver Crawford

Crossing Thresholds: The Air Between Us

Created by: Chloe Loftus and Rodney Bell

Tāwhiri Warehouse, 10th Mar 2024

Reviewed by: Tanya Piejus

The Air Between Us is a captivating aerial dance show performed in mid-air in the new creative space at the back of Te Whaea. Choreographer and dancer Chloe Loftus and multi-award-winning artist and performer Rodney Bell (Ngāti Maniopoto), who performs in his stylish wheelchair, weave an intricate, sensuous, and beautiful story of the literal push and pull of a complex emotional relationship. They seek to “explore our innate capacity to exist in symbiotic harmony, with each other and with our environment”.

They arrive separately, Bell travelling slowly along the aisle between the cushion-dwelling youngsters with their adults and the mostly wheelchair-occupying front row, gently touching them as he passes. Loftus walks in from the audience rostra, and they slowly circle the floor-lit stage before meeting in the middle beneath a double aerial harness. At first, Loftus connects to the harness, flying horizontally around Bell as he gently catches her feet. Then she’s climbing upwards on the harness ropes while he circles below her.

Switching the harness to support them both, they whirl and twist together through the air, embracing, balancing each other, always at one whether together or apart. Finally, Loftus walks calmly away and Bell spins upside down, suspended peacefully and alone until lowering back to terra firma.

It’s mesmerising to watch each exactly paced and balletic movement. Accompanied by appropriately involving music, and their clearly visible rigger Tym Miller-White and his counterweight, their performance is a deeply satisfying work of harmony, synchronicity, and inclusion. The performers are equal in ability and connection in this ungrounded space.

The pleasing sense of inclusivity extends beyond the performers to the attentive staff, seating area that caters to those who can’t or don’t want to sit on the unforgiving plastic seats, and the cost-free entry. It’s wonderful to see the Aotearoa New Zealand Festival of the Arts embracing this ethos so wholeheartedly.

At just 20 minutes long, The Air Between Us is a bijou but utterly fulfilling piece that says so much more than words can convey.

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