Rise, an Acrobatic Play is a moving, futuristic coming-of-age story about a group of high school students dreaming of being world-class entertainers. Under the direction of their new Diverse Physical Talents teacher, Mr. Sam Simon, each student hopes to achieve greatness and win one of two paid understudy roles in the Dream Empire, a well-known traveling circus. As the students improve upon their talents and performance presence, they struggle to keep love, friendship and rivalry balanced in their lives. Rise is a new theatrical experience that will electrify the mind and inspire audiences to overcome all obstacles and rise to the top. Local Central Florida performers Tiffany Lamwatt and Felix Betancourt play the lead roles of Max and Courtney, and 2007 World Gymnastics Champion Shayla Worley makes a special appearance as Julie.
I went to rehearsal of Rise at Orlando Gymnastics (11821 Orange Blossom Trail, Orlando FL).The gymnasium was massive with a cheer leading squad rehearsing in one area and parkour gymnast jumping over hurdles and doing somersaults. The Rise dancers had an area set a side for all the costumes in their show. This was a dress rehearsal so everyone changed before the rehearsal got underway. The cheer leading team had to finish up be for the dancers could take to the staging area.
The first routine to be rehearsed was a Tango which had the male dance in formal black and the female dancers in pure white and flaming red. The dance incorporated tradition tango with an urban hip hop twist. One dancer had performed with Drip Dance in the past, so I knew he would bring a fresh athleticism to the mix. Most of the routine was solidly set in place, but some spontaneous improve worked it way in as well.
The second routine to be rehearsed was called "Virtual Reality". A middle school aged brother and sister team practiced martial arts with wild abandon while an aerialist performed in a rotating metal ring. This routine was modern and hip with dancers occupying all corners of the stage. One dancer moved like a mime whose body reacted to the music as if being hit by electric shocks. The younger dancer then moved all around the stage on a hoover board. The routine ended with a hard core first person fist fight that was beautifully choreographed to the music. As the music slowed, the final punches were thrown.
Rise is a bit of a cross between Stomp, and Cirque du Soleil. There was s vibrant camaraderie between the dancers. At any moment, a dancer might try something new, and if it pushed the boundaries, other performers would laugh and cheer.
Mark your calendar. Rise will be performed Saturday January 16th, starting at 7 pm at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts 445 S Magnolia Ave, Orlando, Florida 32801, Tickets are $33.75.