Jaw-dropping aerial dance skills

Artistic collaboration tells stories through movement in ‘The Map of Leaving’

Top, Victoria Roos; middle, Jenny Olivari (left) and Heather Booth; bottom, Amy Erikson (left) and Amelia Couture. Matthew Nall/Maui Creative Photography

This weekend at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center in Kahului, an innovative performance space will be explored — one not utilized since the Bandaloop dance troupe performed there in 2014. The newly formed tandem of Maui Aerial Arts and Airmaid Productions premieres its first collaborative work, “The Map of Leaving,” showcasing jaw-dropping aerial dance skills above the audience at 7 p.m. Saturday in the McCoy Studio Theater.

The aerial dance production features 13 performers from Maui, Hawaii Island and Oahu who have come together to tell stories through movement utilizing a mix of aerial acrobatics on trapeze, rope, lyra (aerial hoop), silks, hammock and cube.

Named after Jack Heflin’s book of poetry, “The Map of Leaving” will take audiences on a journey through 12 vignettes intended to invoke the nostalgia of the past, the intimacy of the now and the excitement of the future, as each aerial performer examines life journeys and the experiences we have along the way.

“Our lives are not just defined by where we are going, but also by the emotions, people, expectations and places we leave behind,” says co-producer and performer Heather Booth of Maui Aerial Arts.

Act 1 opens on dance trapeze with Jenny Olivari’s “The Lantern,” a piece intended to enchant the audience with her transformation from heaviness to lightness. Jennifer Schmidt takes you back to the ground with a contact improvisation dance, which playfully explores maturing relationships within friendship and family through movement.

Jenny Oliveri

Lani Thur-Fine, on aerial hammock, offers a poetic interpretation of giving life in a three-generation act, “E Ho’okupu ke Kua: Unfurl the Spine,” accompanied by the singing of both her grandmother Dorothy Thur and her mother Lynda Thur.

Booth and Amelia Couture’s duo trapeze performance, “Upon Finding an Old Photograph,” revels in their memories of summer. Sara Crawford, with canes, in “Wait for Me,” depicts a woman separated from her soldier, unsure if she will dance with him again, and Victoria Roos in “Leap into the Unknown” hopes to leave you gasping for air with her perilous, blindfolded rope act.

In Act 2, Booth’s dance trapeze piece welcomes the audience back to the air with “The Arrival,” as she examines the process of acceptance, finding joy and embracing contentment in the now. Roos and Doug Meehan, in a highly athletic, acrobatic piece that previewed at last weekend’s “Dance Maui 2018,” will impress with their physical strength and charm in their meet-cute story, “A Walk in The Park.”

Couture, also on aerial rope, reprises her popular piece ” . . . a thing with feathers,” the tale of a fallen angel who struggles to find her way back up to the heavens. Hula artist Makamae Murray shares a cultural story of trust, loyalty, family and spirits as Hi’iaka watches over her sister Pele.

Amy Erikson’s lyra hoop act, “When Falling Feels like Flying,” tells the story of a woman finding her power. Closing the production is Bella O’Toole and Zoe Eisenberg’s daring aerial cube act, “Reflection,” reminding us to always push the limits.

Victoria Roos

* Maui Aerial Arts and Airmaid Productions present “The Map of Leaving.” Performance is at 7 p.m. Saturday in the McCoy Studio Theater at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center in Kahului. Tickets are $35 (plus applicable fees). To purchase tickets, visit the box office, call 242-7469 or order online at www.mauiarts.org.

Amelia Couture (left) and Heather Booth

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