Blue Lapis Lights’ latest performance, “Heaven~Earth~One,” takes place on the Long Center’s City Terrace and has already received glowing reviews. Since 2005, the Blue Lapis Light dance company has been constructing site-specific, aerial routines that aim for spiritual heights. Blue Lapis Light turns urban environments like warehouses, federal buildings, and power plants into stages in the sky. With a devotion to movement, stillness, and space, members of the Blue Lapis Light dance company hope to create beauty in motion.
One such member, Ivry Newsome, carries the mission of Blue Lapis Light very close to his heart. A natural born performer, Newsome hopes to not only entertain his audience, but also inspire them.
Born in Gladewater, Texas, known to many as the “Antique Capital of East Texas,” Newsome was mostly raised by his mother and her seven sisters in the nurturing, small country town. Looking back, he has grown to appreciate the peace and quiet of his hometown, which is a far cry from the hustle and bustle of Austin, Texas, but he understood from a very early age that he was, in fact, different.
“I could never have hidden in the closet,” Newsome said, “I never had a closet; I was always out. And while it was amazingly accepting for me, you would think there would be a small minded mentality, but I was accepted for just being myself.”
Of course, in Newsome’s typical country hometown, he was sure to face some ignorance. However, once people realized he was able to stand up for his beliefs, he was able to thrive within his community. Always the headstrong individual, it is with this resilience that Newsome developed the confidence that shaped him into an amazing performer.
“I didn’t get lots of formal dance training until I got to UT. While I was studying I performed professionally with local companies; they needed male bodies, a guy that could lift the girls. So I was mostly hired for partnering, which was fine because I got to dance,” Newsome said.
Although Newsome is an aerial performer with the Blue Lapis Light company, his favorite style of dance is a combination of ballet, which is listed on his degree as his primary style, and African inspired dance. And with Blue Lapis Light, he is able to use his masterful dance background to truly inspire an audience.
“With Blue Lapis Light, all of the art is designed as prayer for the planet; they are all worshipful experiences. These are prayers for, healing, beauty and compassion in our world. To be a part of that is an honor and a humbling experience,” Newsome said.
But even with all the transcending highs in Newsome’s career path, there were still a number of sacrifices that had to be made to become a devoted, professional dancer. Regardless, when Newsome wakes up for work, he isn’t dreading his job, instead he cherishes the fact that he gets to live his life doing what he loves.
“I sacrificed the security of working in a corporate environment. As a performer, I work a lot as an independent contractor and I’ve had to change the way I think about income. But I wouldn’t change that. I have more than I would ever need. I don’t have million dollars, but I have peace of mind,” Newsome said.
When it comes to performing in the air, what looks like a dancer in flight to the audience is actually an extremely challenging exercise.
“Your total body is engaged the entire time because you have to hold your posture and positions, as well as be aware of what the cloth is going to do. It’s amazing how strong the cloth is,” Newsome said.
Even though Newsome is a gay man, he has never felt any sort of discrimination in the dance community. He does contend that it may exist, but it has never been a problem for him. Newsome explains that in the dance community there is more of an undeniable emphasis on talent, so if you can do the work, the work speaks for itself.
Newsome, who is in the ensemble section of the “Heaven~Earth~One” performance, describes it as a metaphor for his life; a struggle for transcendence, to become a better person. Dancing in the sky is a vulnerable feat, but Newsome finds performing both a challenge and a privilege. His pride in working with Blue Lapis Lights is just another unmistakable facet of his wonderful character.