Sven Johansson (left) works with operator Scott Craig

Sven Johansson (left) works with operator Scott Craig

Aerial choreographer soars at Pan Am Games

A local choreographer is soaring to new heights with an original performance that will hit one of the largest stages at the PanAm Games.

A local choreographer is soaring to new heights with an original performance that will hit one of the largest stages at the PanAm Games next week.

Victoria resident Sven Johansson, 91, is working as an aerial choreographer on a show called The Thirst for Love and Water.

The aquatic-themed piece is about a woman, searching for love who brings six men from different time periods into her world. Through a series of nine scenes, the six men compete for her love.

“They all arrive in her universe at the same time competing for her affections as she tries to find out which one will be her heart’s desire,” said Derek Aasland, artistic producer with Cinetic Creations, who was commissioned by Pan Am Games organizers to create the performance.

“All of the themes correlate directly with love and water and with the basic necessities of life and play very strongly on our innate competition for these things that we really need in life and those can be summed up in many ways as love and water and the thirst for these things.”

It is a fusion of acrobatics, modern dance and aerial units that will be

performed in the Reflecting Pool at Nathan Phillips Square

Enter Johansson.

Johansson, who is also the artistic director of Discovery Dance in Victoria, developed a unique form called ES dance which involves a fulcrum, a 21-foot pole with a counter balance and harness to hold a dancer and a wheel with an operator.

“The operator can place the dancer gravity free up to 16 feet in the air and then of course the dancer can dance in all positions they are put,” said Johansson. “We’ll be in water and I think this is the first time in history when dancers free of gravity can dance in water.”

In the piece for the Games, 10 dancers will be performing in the Reflecting Pool, which is 200 feet by 100 feet with about seven inches of water, and on a circus stage that has been custom-built..

“This specific choreography has been adjusted to The Thirst for Love and Water,” said Johansson. “There are so many enormous possibilities that you cannot have without the dance instruments.”

Aasland said Johansson’s instruments add a new dimension to the show.

“Bringing Discovery Dance into the fold was a great way to bring a very unique circus apparatus and the dance apparatus into a large venue format where they would be able to show off their full compass of motion being outside and in the water,” said Aasland, adding he expects the performance will draw anywhere from 15-25,000 people.

The Thirst for Love and Water will be performed at the reflecting pool at Nathan Phillips Square from July 21-25.