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Aerial dance returns to Mary S. Young Park as the ballet of the forest rises to new heights

PMG PHOTO: JONATHAN VILLAGOMEZ - A-WOL aerialist Angela Bryant rehearsing for Art in the Dark in 2021 at Mary S. Young Park in West Linn.

Art in the Dark, A-WOL's annual show at Mary S. Young Park, opens Thursday, July 28. Every summer, the company takes over a little copse in the park, whose trees are permanently strung with cables for aerial dance.

Accompanied by a recorded, original score, and lit by theatrical lighting, the dancers put on a spectacle unlike any other this side of Cirque du Soleil. They swing, twist and slo-mo writhe in the air, grappling while turning, climbing and suddenly dropping. This year's original score is by electronic musician Eastghost.

The audience sits, as though at a picnic, (bring your own blankets and low-back chairs) surrounding a small stage under the trees. The dancers come and go from the shadows, often helping with rigging.

This year, the women-owned-and-run collective has called its show "Glass Shadows." The publicity claims the show is about decisions that dictate our life's course.

"Our contentment in the outcome of our choices can merely be a matter of perspective. A powerful collective of performers navigate these twists and turns amidst a naturally forested landscape," reads the promo.

If linking those ideas to movement seems a bit of a stretch, it does give you something to think about during a mesmerizing, non-narrative show. Art in the Dark is one of the great delights of Oregon summer.

PMG PHOTO: JONATHAN VILLAGOMEZ - A-WOL aerialist Olivia Buss suspends herself up in the trees during Art in the Dark at Mary S. Young Park in West Linn in 2021. The 2022 show is called "Glass Shadows" and runs July 27-Aug. 8.

If you go

What: A-WOL Art in the Dark presents "Glass Shadows"

When: Thursday-Sunday, July 28-31; Wednesday-Saturday, Aug. 3-6; seating begins at 7:30 p.m., show at 9 p.m.

Where: Mary S. Young Park, 19900 Willamette Drive, West Linn

Cost: $70-$90 at

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