Tuesday, July 01, 2008


“Heliosphere” performed by The Dream Engine

I’ve always liked balloons. In particular, I like the giant balloons that grace the streets of Detroit every Thanksgiving Day for the parade. I appreciate the translations of two-dimensional illustrations to three dimensional balloons. I also enjoy the artistry inherent in flying a giant balloon on a particularly windy day.

For all of these reasons, I was quite excited to see that The Dream Engine would be performing “Heliosphere” at Top of the Park, a free summer festival near campus in Ann Arbor. I dragged Alicia to campus with me, and watched what I would say was a somewhat mediocre blues/folk performance, but nonetheless enjoyable. The highlight of the evening, as I’d anticipated, was the balloon and the associated handlers and acrobat. It struck me that although I tend to find that interpretive and lyrical dance can be a little dull on the ground, they are in fact fascinating when lifted 25-30 feet into the air... Alicia and I both enjoyed the constant vertical motion of the dancer, which resulted in little crowds of kids scurrying around below the balloon to touch her hands when she dropped toward the grown. They were so excited, and clearly believed her to be of another world.

My conclusions from the event, balloons are magical. While a dancer hoisted on a pulley system in a theater can be impressive, and the upper body strength needed to control that kind of apparatus is equally mind-boggling, there is something extra special about using a helium balloon to carry the weight, and challenge the wind to interrupt the performance.

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