THE DEBACLE THAT IS JULIE TAYMOR and U2's upcoming Broadway adaptation of Spider-Man sounds horrid by all accounts, but in Portland, a slightly less well-known superhero comic has been transformed into a stage show that's a total delight. The comic in question is Zip Zap Zoom, drawn by West Linn fifth-grader Savannah Somerville as part of a contest held by A-WOL Dance Collective.
A-WOL first staged Zip Zap Zoom in April, and now they mount it again in the company's new North Portland warehouse space under the shadow of the Fremont Bridge. Leave the house early (you'll need a few extra minutes to find the venue), but make sure you go, because the aerial dance in Zip Zap Zoom is appealing across the board. In April and at a recent rehearsal, I was struck how the acrobatics of aerial dance are perfect for staging comic-book action: The grace and gliding motion of the choreography is easy to imagine as panels coming to life. An apt comparison would be the wirework used in martial arts movies, in which the fighting is a dance in and of itself.
Zip Zap Zoom tells the tongue-in-cheek story of the struggle between one good sister (Zoom) and two evil sisters (Zip, Zap). It's packed with color, motion, kicks, and cartwheeling action. For instance, there's a fight between a black dragon ninja and a blue-haired unicorn—in the air. Which is a perfect indication of Zip Zam Zoom's appeal: It's goofy, enthusiastic, beautiful, unique, and impossible to dislike.