Air Signs

Who has seen the wind? I have—all 80 minutes of Sydney Dance Company's Air and other invisible forces (Joyce Theater), a fantasia with a hodgepodge of Buddhist references. Lavish scenic effects and a large cast of fetching dancers could not redeem its pointlessness. It began auspiciously with a haunting didgeridoo cry, gruff chants, and the lonely wail of Riley Lee's shakuhachi, all sonic expressions of air. Dancers rolled, massed, billowed, and stretched before a mountain range. Light played prettily as they arched and leaped like flying fish. As matters progressed, Graeme Murphy's slick choreography obscured the dancers' humanity, making them toys in the hands of a tireless child. Rubbery machines of flesh spun like tops, trios curled and uncurled, bodies stacked and unstacked—identical plastic widgets. Designer Gerald Manion's huge silk props wafted above, unwittingly humorous distractions: condoms and dental dams for titans?

DJ Richie D. Tempo lit incense, prepping P.S. 122 for Old Rain. Bill Shannon, "Crutchmaster," swirled in like smoke on the skateboard and custom-built crutches that help him defy his hip-joint disease. A yellow slicker hood concealing his face, he crept and scrunched himself like crumpled paper, beautifully ugly. An anonymous, slain B-boy (his widow wore a black veil and bare midriff) was mourned with beer for libations, and then resurrected. Shannon—call him Icarus—and crew unleashed what they're famous for: exciting, rhythmic sleight of foot based on street culture, with some slow, creamy capoeira for good measure. Old Rain's dark ending, though, reminded us that Shannon lives between two worlds, each with some hope, some limits.

 
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