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Arachne Aerial Arts combines dance with aerial acrobatics


Andrea Burkholder, foreground, and Sharon Witting of Arachne Aerial Arts rehearse. (Astrid Riecken / For The Washington Post)

By Pamela Squires

Three duets performed by the Washington company at Dance Place on Saturday were breath taking. They more than made up for the remaining three works, which had trouble taking off.

The company performs using aerial rings, silks, ropes, pulleys, a trapeze and a hanging net. These various pieces of equipment were hanging from bared rigging in a space stripped down to cement floor and walls, much like the warehouse Dance Place was originally.

Performers Andrea Burkholder and Sharon Witting were at their best in "Home," "Turf," and "Exhibition." "Exhibition," for example, was a tango in the air. Sleek in black leotards that emphasized line and showed musculature, Burkholder and Witting tangoed at times in graceful tandem while positioned one slightly above the other. At times, they moved in amiable opposition, one pausing watchfully while the other spiraled to higher altitudes. Always, they partnered like pros.

Burkholder and Witting are an unlikely pair. Witting is tall and blond. Burkholder is short and dark. Yet they have chemistry and fly best when together. They commune with each other silently and easily. Their sense of teamwork and precision is akin to migrating birds flying in formation.

Their solitary flights in "Portal" and "Refuge" weren't nearly as effective, and the opening duet "Work" suffered from awkward dialogue ("How are you?" Fifteen second pause. "Fine."). In between works, Tzveta Kassabova and Lillian Cho drew squiggles on the floor with chalk. It was a big floor. Waiting for them to finish felt like being in a plane waiting for it to take off.

Yet over the course of the evening, the good outweighed the bad. Burkholder and Witting know how to use aerial acrobatics to extend the visual range of dance. And this is the one form of dance in which performers consistently jump to conclusions.

By Christian Pelusi  | September 29, 2010; 2:07 PM ET
Categories:  Dance  | Tags:  Arachne Aerial Arts  
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