This year is Aerial Fit’s 10 year anniversary! In those 10 years thousands of people have come through our doors and experienced the fun, humility and empowerment of circus. When you open your doors to the public, you never know who is going to come in, but we feel lucky that we really like all of our students! Everybody walks in with their own unique story to tell, and the practice of circus might seem strange but it actually fits right into life in a lot of ways.
While circus is often a physical practice, it’s also a practice of facing our fears, being bold, and overcoming challenges. When someone succeeds at climbing to new heights, or turning upside down in some weird way, we celebrate their progress. We know it translates outside of the studio into life skills. It’s much easier to face a scary experience when you’ve regularly practiced scary things. Sometimes we are surprised to learn about the major challenges students are facing outside these walls. Over the years students have shared their stories with us and with their fellow classmates. We’ve taken these stories that have most inspired us and transformed them into aerial acts. Tonight we’ve created a cast of characters that can represent you, me or any of us.
Performance, Choreo and Costume by Kelly Bratz
Music: Fitzpleasure by alt-J
“For many of us getting out of a warm, cozy bed every morning is a challenge. Sometimes, even though we get out of bed, we never actually wake up. We can trudge through life without making connections with others. Other times we can fill our life with so many obligations that we frantically multi-task our way through we never make a connection with ourselves.
Our lives can get so bogged down that we just move through life following some generic pre-existing path not realizing that if we just “woke up” we could find a whole other world out there waiting for us. Sometimes to wake up all we need is a spark.”
Performance, Choreo and Costume by Jillian Byrd
Music: In My Blood by Shawn Mendes
“No one should be just a statistic. We are all humans. She has gone through so much in her life. Struggling with day-to-day living and wondering if it will all be OK. Most days she doesn’t want to get out of bed, pretending that everything is OK.
She feels alone and forces a smile. She feels afraid and forces a smile. She knows recovery is possible and she’s working on it. Aerial has become an integral part of her healing. Her aerial family encourages her providing positive solutions to the voices in her head that tell her that her isn’t worthy of happiness. It is hard to combat the myths that go along with having mental health problems but she won’t let that stigma define her.”
Getting Back Up
Performance, Choreo and Costume by Kari Kistler
Music: Shake It Out by Florence + The Machine
“Life has so many ups and downs. It seems no matter what happens you have to keep pulling yourself up again. Living as a performing musician isn’t quite as romantic on the eve of 40 as it was at 16; where’s the retirement match?!?! And no matter what anyone tells you, the Arts are a brutal career. You work really hard, for months at a time, and seemingly get nowhere. The only way up is through a hellish audition process- one spot that maybe 100 people audition for, and you get all of 4 minutes to prove yourself. Brutal! After a while you start to doubt yourself, to feel like an imposter. That you’re not good enough. That you’ll never attain your goal. That’s a terrible devil to live with.
One of the hardest things a professional musician does is to continue to believe in our self. No matter how many auditions we lose, solos we play, hours spent holed up alone practicing, we have to kick that Imposter devil off our back and keep trying. We have to keep aiming for that 16 year old’s dream. And maybe along the way we find some new friends, and new way to express ourselves, where your entire career doesn’t hinge on the next 4 minutes.”
Performance, Choreo and Costume by Christine Rawls
Music: Oceans by Seafret
“When students start an aerial practice they often want to get stronger in a fun way. But sometimes it quickly turns out to be something much more important. Sure, she got stronger but she also gained a family. Although she is horrifyingly shy, she found kind and supportive friends in her circus community. Smiles from across the studio turned into sitting together and sushi after class. Simply playing together formed lifelong friendships. Strangers became as close as family.
Then life took her for a turn, spreading her new found family across the country and across the oceans. Although sometimes she is lonely without them, she still cherishes every moment she had with them. She hopes others will find the same joy and looks forward to welcoming new members into her aerial family.”
Not Caring What Others Think
Performance, Choreo and Costume by Anastasia Timina
Music: Us by What So Not
“We listen to a lot of voices in our lives. Some are friends and family, others are complete strangers but the things they say can shape how we feel and think and act. These voices can be encouraging and inspiring but they also can be demeaning and hurtful. Perhaps they come from a place of misunderstanding, or simply ignorance, but it is easy to let them all in one by one until there are so many voices in your head that you seem to lose your own in the cacophony.
It is easy to feel hurt when you are exposing the tender underbelly of your work. It is important to discern between those that offer criticism constructively and those who mean harm. Even more important is our ability to brush away the voices that mean us harm and to not let them cling to us; their weight dragging us down.”
Performance, Choreo and Costume by Josey Wetzel
Music: Take Me to Church by Hozier
“Sexuality is a person’s sexual orientation or preference. For some it comes in many levels along with depression, fear, anxiety, and even bullying. The depression of not being able to be your true self. The fear of how people react. The anxiety that someone will out you and just the idea of coming out. Getting bullied because you are “different” and people can be so mean.
Some people will accept you just for who you are while others will never talk to you again or say “it’s just a phase” or “you’re just confused”. You are constantly being knocked down by other people views and slowly you begin to hide those feelings and stop loving yourself. But there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel and instead you learn to love yourself just the way you are.”
Holding Others Up
Performance, Choreo and Costume by Jordan Anderson & Clayton Woodson
Music: Hold You Up by Claude Hay
“All of these stories are why we love teaching circus. We weren’t sure at first how starting a circus school would go in the long run, and our parents may have been a little worried for us, but we’re happy that the rewards are worth it. We love coming to this haven where people celebrate each other’s strengths. It’s a great way to live a life.
A lot of people ask us how we got into circus. The answer is just like everyone else. We started as beginners and progressed one step at a time. The reason why we wanted to start a circus school goes deeper.
We both believe that relationships thrive when people help each other grow into the best version of themselves. We love that this space you’re sitting in tonight is such a supportive one, where people push each other to be their best every single day. In circus we begin by lifting ourselves up physically. We continue to train because life is better when we all lift each other up.”