Blue Lapis Light

I have been attending performances – theatre, music, dance – for decades now. There are some incredible stand-outs – both exceptionally good and abysmally bad – but there are few companies I’ve followed so zealously, few groups where I’ve taken in nearly their entire body of work and been consistently blown-away each and every time. Even though I mostly know what is coming…even though theoretically it’s not “new” anymore.  Blue Lapis Light is the one company I can say this about.

Blue Lapis Light offered their first public performances in 2003 & 2004.  (There’s a great map and log of all their Austin performances on their website, I’ve included it below for reference.)

I wasn’t yet in Austin, so I didn’t know of them until what many would consider their “breakthrough” – Requiem – in summer 2006.  A friend of mine came across the show purely by accident, seeing people dangling from the hulking shell of the incomplete Intel building as she wandered by downtown, and before I knew it we were in the bleachers with our contraband teensy boxes of wine enjoying the spectacle. (Oh, MK, remember when?) Captivated. Awed. Speechless. Which most people who know us would say is a rather rare occurrence.

Throughout this post, click on the photos to access BLL’s video highlights from each performance. I can’t embed w/o Vimeo Plus.

Photo by Tom Athey

Then BLL startled Austin once again by dashing up and down the sides of the Radisson on First Night (2006/07) with Angels in Our Midst. Open to all, no tickets needed. Many jaws dropped.

Photo by Steve Hopson

BLL performed a new show in 2007 – Illumination – but I seem to remember skipping that one because ticket prices went drastically up between the two years. I remember thinking – I’m not independently wealthy, I’ll catch the next one. Still not sure if that was a good decision, or not, because look. at. this.

Photo by Tom Athey

I’ve since been in the abandoned Seaholm Power Plant for concerts, and it must have been an amazing space for this kind of soaring. And then they did Constellation, and somehow I missed that too. I don’t know if I was wrapped up in my own projects, or if they didn’t advertise as intensely in the past as they do now.

I did get back to BLL for Impermanence in 2009…and I haven’t missed one of their feature performances since, though a few linked to other Austin events that happened one night only (Limitless and Night of the Bat) have slipped by me. And, barring extreme circumstances, like being in a different hemisphere, I don’t plan to ever miss one again.  With Impermanence, they brought out the ziplines, allowing them to not only do silks and building-based work, but also to literally fly over the audience’s head from point A to point B. Pretty stunning.

Photos by Tom Athey

One was BLL’s first show based at the Long Center, and the venue was spectacular. Not only did the topography allow for new choreography and spatial engagement, but it all took place with the iconic Austin skyline as a backdrop.

Photo by Scott Hathaway

Photo by Amitava Sarkar

Last summer, with Devotion, BLL tried out a new space – the intake building of Seaholm, right on the shores of Town Lake. The audience was a bit distanced from the performers as we were on the opposite shore, but the lake permitted them to use some new levels as well, with performers approaching the building in boats as well as by land.

Photos by Earl McGehee

Last fall, BLL featured some of their younger student dancers from the Youth Taking Flight program at a performance during the grand opening of the new Arts Center at McCallum High.  Elevate was the first BLL-linked performance I’d ever seen indoors, which to me detracted from the expansive, boundary-free feel of their other performances, but it was great to see less-experienced aerialists trying out their wings, so to speak.

Photo by Peter Staats

And here we are once again, at what now seems to be a yearly event for BLL.  For those of you living in Austin, this is your chance to see their amazing current show, Heaven-Earth-One. I saw it Sunday night and was starstruck as ever.  They don’t have a performance video up online yet, since it just opened, but you can see some rehearsal footage here.

Photos by JNDowning (Flickr)

The combination of grace and strength and inspiration is truly, truly magical.

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