Santa Barbara was treated to a remarkable performance of dancers taking flight in the annual Floor to Air dance festival. The festival, which was created and produced by Ninette Paloma of the Santa Barbara Centre for Aerial Dance, featured dancers from around the world as well as talented locals. The aerialists came from a variety of training backgrounds, from contemporary dance to circus tradition, and this cross-cultural collaboration was a unique highlight of the dance season.
Paloma and cooperating artists choreographed the three featured dances, a diverse program of athleticism, sensuality, and intensity. “Empathy No. 2” had dancers using suspended hoops and triangles in their narrative. Reminiscent of trapeze art (and featuring a solo from a talented contortionist), the piece suggested the deep roots that aerial dance has in circus customs.
“Possession is Nine-Tenths of the Law” saw a more aggressive movement strategy in which performers tackled and commanded suspended ropes in stunning examples of balance and muscle control. The stage resembled docks or the interior of a warehouse — locations traditionally associated with work requiring physical prowess and stamina.
In the final offering, “Female in Repose,” dancers weaved through a luxurious maze of suspended silks. The piece featured the striking Isabel Musidora, whose 1920s-inspired look and sinuous connection with the material was mesmerizing.
Paloma’s annual festival continues to showcase fearless grace and physical vigor in this visually sumptuous presentation.