When we walked through the backstage entrance to "Fuerza Bruta Wayra," we were immediately greeted by performers swooping over our heads in rehearsal for "Bollo," one of the show's opening acts. It involves men and women tied together and dropped in a harness from an elevated platform on one side of the Daryl Roth Theatre in Union Square, where the performance piece takes place.
We were watching one of two rehearsals that take place each week for "Wayra," totaling about eight hours. This keeps the performers warmed up and polished for their precarious maneuvers that grace audiences eight times per week. Dance captain Liam Layne explained to us that while it's important for the cast members — of which there's 18, including subs — to bond during rehearsals so that they can anticipate and trust one other, it's actually even more important for the cast members to learn to work closely with the crew, which is made up of 22 members total. Cast and crew must communicate visually and through headphones despite pounding drums, loud music, mist, water, fog and darkness.
After "Bollo," the cast members took a break to stretch and verbally run through cues. Although many of the performers had been with the show for weeks, a few were new to "Wayra" or were taking over new roles in the show. Learning how to "walk," turn and fall in the right way at the right time, while mid-air in a harness, making entrances and exits in the pitch black nooks and crannies of the theater, is something that looks masterfully easy in the hands of these pros, even when they're running a new track for the first time.
Next, the studio space was filled with intense fans from all sides. The show title translates to "brute force wind," and this part of the show embodies the concept. The air is actually filling up a huge plastic tarp that raises into the air like a bubble or balloon; the act is called "Globa." With the audience inside, surrounded by swirling confetti, the aerialists begin to dance and tumble overheard, falling through "trap doors" in the bubble and lifting participants up with them to join in the elated air-walking above. At one point, a massive tunnel rises from the stage floor to the plastic ceiling; one of the performers swims down inside of it against blasts of air, as if in a pool with the jets turned on full-blast.
Click through the slideshow above to see more of what it's like to witness a rehearsal for a physically intensive show like "Fuerza Bruta Wayra" and read our review to find out what we thought about the actual show (plus a slideshow of production photos).
For more theater news and reviews, follow T. Michelle Murphy on Twitter: @TMichelleMurphy.