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AirDance clashes danger with safety

AirDance New Mexico dancers perform an above-the-ground routine.

AirDance New Mexico dancers perform an above-the-ground routine.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Soaring low over the high desert, AirDance New Mexico combines the athleticism of the trapeze with the choreography of dance.

The 3-year-old company will explore the conflicting desires for safety and danger with “Fight or Flight” at the AirDance ArtSpace. The performance will include five aerialists and three musicians.

It all started when company members took a martial arts workshop. They swing from aerial hoops, trapeze, aerial fabric and cubes.


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“Fight or flight is the instinctual response,” said AirDance artistic director Debra Landau. “We’re playing on that.”

The battles range from fighting with yourself to the clash between blood cells and viruses, she added.

“We’ve learned a couple of martial arts,” she continued. “We’ve adapted and put them into our choreography.”

The aerial cube may double as a trap, sometimes a refuge; the hoop may serve as a portal or a cage; the silks provide a path to freedom or can lure into danger.

Landau fell in love with aerial dance when she was living in Seattle years ago.

“It was not something known outside the circus world” then, she said.

“I think it’s the basic desire of a lot of humans to fly,” Landau continued. “We’re not exactly flying like birds, but this is as close as we get; the center of our bodies is free.”

The dancers can soar as high as the building’s 20-foot ceiling, but they specialize in low flight, she added.

“As a dancer, I really like the three-dimensional aspect of it,” she said. “We can actually climb to a higher vertical level.”

Landau moved to Albuquerque in 2011.

This year marks the first time the company has produced two shows — one in spring and another in the fall.

“Fight or Flight” is AirDance New Mexico’s sixth production of collaboratively created new works in the company’s three-year history. The troupe is a nonprofit organization working to bring aerial arts and dance theater to the Albuquerque area through both performances and classes.