Preview: Taking Flight, Corn Exchange, Newbury

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The Independent Culture

Taking Flight, an aerial dance event shortly to tour Britain, includes a 20-minute performance of abseiling using rock-climbing harnesses.

Taking Flight, an aerial dance event shortly to tour Britain, includes a 20-minute performance of abseiling using rock-climbing harnesses.

The piece, called "Why?", is another opportunity for Lindsey Butcher, who founded the aerial dance company Gravity & Levity last year, to take to the air along with Lee Clayden and Scott Smith, her aerial partners. Butcher also stars in the solo "Falling Up", where an "endless rope" on a winch allows her continually to fall and turn without having to climb. "It's as though I am caught in mid-flight, but falling," she says.

Butcher started the company to develop the creative and expressive potential of aerial dance. "It forces split-second changes of direction and timing, with impossible suspension," she says. These are just some of the special aspects of the art form. "We are also playing with perspective and challenging notions of which way is up."

The event will also screen three films, including Wall Flower, a solo starring Butcher. "It was filmed for practical reasons," she says. "It's choreographed for a counterweight harness, and really needs a circus space to work."

Butcher first trained at the London School of Contemporary Dance. After she graduated in 1984, she danced with Extemporary Dance Theatre, and then in 1989 she joined the Ra-Ra Zoo Circus Theatre. It was here that she was trained in aerial, acrobatic and juggling skills.

In May 2004, Gravity & Levity worked with Company FZ and the film-maker Carl Stevenson to make the short film From Where I'm Standing. Based on two characters in an office, it combines animation and aerial dance. "Telephones float away and people fall down lift shafts," Butcher says. "It plays with gravitational planes."

"What we do is truly dancing in the air, not just performing a series of acrobatics. It should be as emotionally compelling as it is daring," Butcher says.

To 5 May, then touring to 25 June ( www.gravity-levity.net)

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