i live for a good surprise. an honest-to-goodness, i-never-saw-this-coming, jolt me out of my everyday schema and throw something across my path that accosts me with all the wonder of a meteor shower shooting down around me. (yes, i understsand that this would kill me. i’m allowing myself some poetic license here.)

i’ve had quite a few great ones, stemming from the fact that i have some truly amazing people in my life for whom i’m very blessed. like the time in my early 20s when my parents gave me my mom’s engagement ring (she’d gotten some upgrades) because they knew how much i loved that ring, after begging to wear it to my high school proms. or the huge surprise birthday party that was thrown at the lakehouse on my 28th birthday, which i never caught wind of for a moment. or the day i was working at the coffee shop in Buena Vista, CO, quietly reading my book at the counter, and a man came walking in against the bright November sun streaming through the shop windows with a huge bouquet of flowers in his hands and said, “what’s a guy gotta do to get a decent cup of coffee in this town?”

that man was my father, who gave me the ultimate surprise of my life by flying across the country from NY and arranging with my boss to drop in on me at work. i am the girl whose father loves her so much, misses her so much, that he picks up on a whim in the middle of snowstorm season to come give her flowers and wash dishes at the shop where she works just to see her.

it’s no wonder i enjoy surprises.

so this past weekend, when one of my friends from college (sadly, i’m at the age when i can say i’ve known someone for 10 years and met them in college) asked me to do something Saturday night and got tickets to a “surprise,” i couldn’t wait. that word is like crack for me. it doesn’t eve matter if i KNOW i’m getting a surprise – that just adds an element of anticipation.

so we go to Union Square and turns out, my surprise is an incredibly amazing, eclectic, artsy phenomenon of a show that is entirely unlike anything i’ve ever seen before. like, one of those crazy, trippy shows you know must exist, with insanely talented and artistic performers who seek to defy any traditional methodologies of theater and dance and conventionality, but you never really know where to find them or if you’ll stumble upon one? well, i certainly stumbled into the belly of a fantastical, theatrical beast of a sensory overload experience, otherwise known as “Fuerza Bruta: Look Up.”

how do i even describe this? it absolutely blew my mind. it’s an hour long show where the audience stands (directed to move around the room at certain intervals) and the “stage” or central focus of performance shifts constantly around the room. one minute you’re watching a man running on a giant treadmill as passerbys whiz and drop off all around him, and the next you’re craning your head entirely back in an effort to touch your ponytail to your shoulder blades as the room becomes blanketed with a tin-foil looking material from floor to ceiling and a mesmerizing duo of aerial performers tumble and chase each other across this silver screen, hanging just below the theater’s ceiling. and this treadmill man, he just keeps running through the madness, surviving gunshots and ignoring the people bumping into him, bursting through walls and enduring rainstorms, bravely forcing his way through anything life might thrust across his path. he is relentless in his pursuit of forward motion.

then you’re moving, and a new stage appears, and a frenetic, crazy crew of bohemian partiers trash a house and beat each other with glitter-filled boxes before breaking into a chaotic sort of choreographed crazy dance, limbs flailing and bodies jerking, and you’re yelling and dancing with them and wondering why life doesn’t contain more of this sort of raw, unleashed energy. there’s an animalistic flair to their dancing, a seemingly random, spasmic routine of uninhibited fury and delicious freedom. i immediately wanted to spend the rest of my life as a performer in this show, thrashing around as glitter flies everywhere and you lose all consciousness of any other sort of existence than this one of ultimate expression. there are no city streets. there are no blaring sirens. there are no morning commutes.

then there are the water girls. just when you think things can’t become any more creative, more sensory, more hypnotic…a watery world descends from the ceiling, suspended in the air and gradually lowered until it’s merely inches above the audience’s heads (i had to jump to touch it, but the taller people merely raised their arms). it’s a huge swimming pool of sorts, a gigantic slip-n-slide where four mermaid-esque young ladies put on a dazzling show above your heads and lure you into their underwater existence with graceful, fluid movements of dance and acrobatics. it’s shockingly unexpected and stunningly innovative, suggesting all the beauty of transcendence and an unearthly, dream-like state. the effect is truly spectacular.

and if you want to get wet yourself, well, of course you can. they aren’t just teasing you with the water realm. the show ends with a thumping dance party complete with streams of water soaking you from the DJ booth, and the audience has a turn to go crazy and surrender to the madness that is Fuerza Bruta.

all the while a ridiculously talented techno DJ spins a dynamic soundtrack to the performance, the music swelling all around you and making it impossible for you to keep your shoulders from shaking and your body from becoming fully engaged. and the best part is, everyone around you feels the exact same way.

oh, and fyi: i managed to stay (somewhat) dry. the only downside to a shockingly wonderful surprise: leather boots & purse kept me from the rain dance circle…but didn’t keep me from having the time of my life.

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