June 19, 2014 at 1:00 am

Diverse Ann Arbor Summer Festival includes extra colorful works

Architects of Air's 'Miracoco' is a walk-through sculpture that features eye-popping color. (Myra Klarman)

The fun at Ann Arbor’s three-week Summer Festival covers diverse territory, but two of this week’s attractions defy definition even by those standards.

This weekend the fest will host a massive inflatable walk-in sculpture titled “Miracoco” at Palmer Field on the University of Michigan campus. The sculpture comes courtesy of the U.K.-based art collective Architects of Air, which travels the world with interactive structures it calls “luminaria.”

Visitors to “Miracoco” must remove their shoes and pass through an airlock before entering a series of colorful, translucent domes, modeled on India’s Lotus Temple. The natural mood lighting inside the structure changes constantly with the weather and the position of the sun.

“It’s just this really serene, magical space,” says Amy Nesbitt, the festival’s executive director. “The sunlight comes through the panels so the different rooms are purples and oranges and reds. You’re combing through these catacombs, almost.”

Another attraction this weekend interprets nature in a different way. Connecticut-based contemporary dance troupe MOMIX will present “Botanica,” a choreographed interpretation of the natural world set to accompaniment ranging from classical music to bird song.

“They do all these really fun, inventive feats of choreography so the dancers become flowers and trees and birds,” Nesbitt says.

The highly visual stage show is reminiscent of Cirque du Soleil. The self-described “dancer-illusionists” perform in brilliantly colored outfits, using props, puppets and eye-popping backgrounds to stage a striking spectacle.

“They’ve got incredible costumes,” Nesbitt says. “It’s not modern dance that you would shy away from bringing little kids to, because it’s so beautiful.”

The hottest ticket of the week is a Tuesday performance by genre-melding New Orleans native Trombone Shorty.

“The last time we had him, he hadn’t won a Grammy yet,” she says. “Now he’s won a Grammy, and there are still tickets, but they’re moving fast.”

Most Summer Festival events require no ticket at all. The Botanica and Trombone Shorty shows fall under the fest’s ticketed indoor “Mainstage” series, but the bulk of the festival is outdoors and free of charge.

Ann Arbor Summer Festival

Through July 6


Power Center

MOMIX: Botanica



Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue



Palmer Field

Architects of Air: Miracoco

Today through Sunday




The O>Matics



Patrick Dunn is an Ann Arbor-based freelance writer.

Dance troupe MOMIX will perform the Cirque du Soleil-style 'Botanica.' (Max Pucciariello)
Trombone Shorty returns to the festival with a Grammy Award under his belt. (Jonathan Mannion)