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Flipping on 'Shrooms

Aeros performers go head over heels.

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Aeros is a dance performance, even though the dancers "are not at all dancers," says choreographer Daniel Ezralow. "Dance doesn't exist in their training." But they are trained -- as gymnasts, gold-medal-holding gymnasts from the National Romanian Team.

Aeros presented challenges for Ezralow and his collaborators, David Parsons and Moses Pendleton. But the idea -- that bodies capable of flying through space could create emotionally charged scenes through aesthetics rather than athletics -- kept them engaged.

"If you ask a dancer to do a double flip, it's quite difficult. You ask these guys and it's an instant," Ezralow says. The flip side of the coin: "You ask someone to walk across a stage to a piece of classical music and a dancer can make it look beautiful. These guys can have a very difficult time just walking across the stage."

Gymnast Cristian Moldovan imagines that for the audience, the most exciting scenes are the comical ones. He enjoys the piece that gathers four guys around a table in something "like a poker game, only without cards. They challenge each other physically." In another comical scene, four gymnasts climb up on 2-foot-tall mushrooms and challenge one another with stunts, competing to stay on the 'shrooms.

One big audience-pleaser is a scene choreographed by Pendleton, who Moldovan says "puts head to head." Performers wear white and do stunts in black lighting. While their movements are discernable, audience members can't tell whether performers are on their hands or their feet.

No matter whether Pendleton puts head to head or head to feet, audiences have responded to this collaboration with awe. Ezralow says that's because the team's "not looking to place something over people's heads." Nothing but a few airborne bodies, anyway.

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