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BECK EPOCH: An Aerial River Dance


Performance Date:
July 15th and 16th, 2016

Freeform Review:

On Friday, July 15 and Saturday, July 16th on the Schuylkill River in East Fairmount Park, hundreds of people gathered on the banks and on the river. As the sun began dipping towards the horizon they anxiously awaited the start of INVISIBLE RIVER’s BECK EPOCH. People set up blankets, chairs, picnics, and paddled kayaks, canoes, and dragon boats to opportune positions to view the aerial dance above and on the river. Finally, ethereal music began playing from the Strawberry Mansion bridge. The audience was swept into the performance as the warm colors of the sun bounced off of river and the lush music swirled around.

In the distance, two bright figures in a boat began drifting towards the bridge. The figures are Christine Morano and Tatiana Hassan, one of the choreographers. They bent, swayed, and stretched artfully as they came to stop under the bridge. Their movements were as  fluid as the current, halting only when one of the dancers, Morano, is placed in a harness hanging from the bridge between two large silks that dangled from the bridge all the way to the river. Once in place, Morano began flying through the air,  swaying, swiveling, flipping, and fluidly swooping between the the two silks. Her hot pink and orange figure popped against the gradients of blues in the silks and the dark water of the Schuylkill as she glided through the air above it.

As this solo drew to an end, two figures atop the bridge began moving. Alie Vidich, the founder of INVISIBLE RIVER and a choreographer of this piece, and fellow dancer, Shannon Sexton. They began slowly descending towards the water. Throughout their descension they unfurled bright streamers from their costumes that blew beautifully in the breeze as they executed fluid movements midair.

Ultimately the two met Morano and Hassan on the river, and here the three aerialists glided through the air with each other. Swirling, twisting, and posing, the dancers captivated the onlooking audience. Before long, Hassan, Morano, and Sexton remove themselves from their harnesses and got into the boat, disappearing behind the bridge leaving Vidich behind.  At this moment, she submerged herself into the water, eventually disappearing behind the bridge herself.

BECK EPOCH is the culmination of Vidich’s six year relationship of creating performances and dancing on the river. The magical performance prompted audiences to ask themselves about their own relations to the Schuylkill River and what the future has in store for it, all while taking their breathe away.

There is absolutely nothing else like this in Philadelphia. As a newer inhabitant of the city, I have often wonder about the Schuylkill. Never could I have imagined that I would have the opportunity to boat on the Schuylkill without being part of a crew team. The event was truly an extravaganza. Though sometimes hard to explain to those who have never seen it, those who understand what this dance is know its power and continually come back to see it, as will I.

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