Up In The Air
Choreographer Milena Straczynski lifts dance off the stage and defies gravity in Allura, Faena Theater’s transfixing cabaret from performance art collective Quixotic.
Leave your preconceptions at the door—those are for gallery shows, dance recitals, theater performances, and concerts. Allura starts from somewhere else entirely; it challenges expectations and pushes boundaries at every turn. Either by using lighting and projections to transport the audience to another realm or sending a stage’s worth of props (luggage and a bellhop cart!) up into the air for a mesmerizing aerial dance that appears to break the rules of gravity. Nothing is what it seems.
At the heart of the cabaret is the dynamic choreography from Milena Straczynski. A true multi-hyphenate, Straczynski is an aerialist, singer, and dancer that also performs several vignettes in the show. When conceptualizing the movement that would bring the show to life, she wanted to ensure that the audience could “disconnect from the outside world and pop into our world of entertainment and imagination.” This meant stringing together influences from modern dance, partnered performance, ballet, and almost primal movements. Coordinating them all with the one-of-akind score—a mix of 1970s and 80s electronic sounds blended invisibly into super-contemporary tunes, as well as soul, rock, and R&B from MC Rocky Lanes.
Straczynski’s inspiration for the choreography and acrobatics comes from an eclectic array of sources, running the gamut from Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movies to the Prince and Paula Abdul music videos she grew up watching.
And from a range of people, too, like her opera singer mother, circus performer father, and Cirque du Soleil aerialist husband. Look carefully, and you can see each of these elements play its part in Allura, adapted by Straczynski’s careful hand.This isn’t the kind of performance that you sit and passively receive. It’s high energy all the way. “This show focuses more on being a party vibe,” says Straczynski.
“We really wanted people to experience an atmosphere that makes them jump out of their seats and dance with us by the end of the show.”