Canopy Studios, here in Athens, has opted to take this idea and visualize it into a unique performance. Canopy is a nonprofit community arts center that offers programs, classes and performances and performances that display aerial arts like fabric silks and trapeze.
The idea for show stemmed out of something rather unexpected, the 2010 film “The Social Network” which recounts the development of the website Facebook by then-college then college student Mark Zuckerberg. Viewing the film years ago and the combination of Facebook’s recent relevance back in news headlines is what inspired Canopy instructor Julie Phillips to pitch the idea for the show.
Each year, Canopy hosts a showcase for their advanced students to perform using various apparatuses. The theme for this year’s show is Dis/Connect: An Aerial Exploration of Sensory Overload. The show will explore the five senses and what happens when there is an abundance or absence of a certain sense.
“Some of the pieces are exploring sight and sound, some of them are comedic versions of smell,” said Melissa Roberts, the executive director of Canopy Studios. “There is also the concept of how you find a sense of peace when things are chaotic. When you’re constantly bombarded by social media and your cell phone and these things that distract us and take over all of the senses, how do you then still find connection with yourself and with people in your life.”
“It’s so in the media right now — what Facebook is in our culture,” Phillips said. “I just wanted to play with the idea that we have this disconnect of one another in our sensory overload culture.”
The production has been in the works for several months. Most of the advanced students who are in the show are trapeze and aerial silk students who have been training and performing at Canopy for several years. The students will perform a mix of aerial silk routines, dance trapeze pieces and a comedic piece using aerial ladders and other metal equipment.
Part of the show’s opening number was choreographed by Phillips after she was inspired by an exercise given during one of her aerial silks classes.
“You start pretty much at the top of the aerial silk and you do this wrap that allows you to roll down slowly without using your hands or your feet,” Phillips said. “You have a wrap around your waist and you're rolling around until you hit the floor and it's … all abdominal work.”
While difficult, the gracefulness of the skill promoted Phillips to incorporate it into Dis/Connect’s show.
“It looks like this huge room full of people is slowly falling, in slow motion, down towards the floor,” Phillips said.
While the show is sure to be a uncommon display of finesse and athleticism, it’s also important for audiences to remember the universal idea at the heart of the show.
“The title Dis/Connect is a play on the idea that we do need to disconnect from being so at the mercy of these things that we hold in our hand ... and to truly connect with one another,” Phillips said. “...I think it's just something to think about and to explore with dance.”