Up in the air
What: Aerial Showcase
Where: Cirque Lab, 1401 6th St.
WHEN: 8pm Fri., May 10; 6pm and 9pm Sat., May 11; 3pm Sun., May 12 (early shows are family-friendly)
Wednesday, May 8, 2019
In March, when aerialist PJ Perry saw Teatro Zinzanni cast member Rachel Nehmer’s solo piece relating to the difficult birth of her second child, it moved her to tears.
Other than on opening night, those in attendance at the seventh annual Aerial Showcase performances taking place May 10-12 at the Bellingham Circus Guild’s Cirque Lab will also be able to witness Nehmer’s autobiographical dance trapeze act, which focuses on the recovery process from that birth—which was a dramatic one and nearly killed her.
“Her skill as an aerialist is undeniable and was what I expecting to see—excellence,” Perry says. “But what really surprised me was her ability to use monologue and movement tastefully, effectively and with complete honesty. I think of her piece as the keystone of this show, especially since it lands on Mother’s Day weekend.”
Perry will be filling in for Nehmer on Friday night with a piece she recently debuted in Olympia, and will also join forces with her “aerial life partner,” Dream Frohe, for a whirl on the Spanish web—a rope with a hand loop attached to it that allows for dynamic spinning sequences.
Per usual for the showcases, the 8-10 acts that will be on display give the creatively focused athletes a chance to share their talents unrestrained by a particular theme or the demands of a client. Instead, their passion for the art form gets star billing, with aerialists performing pieces they’ve carefully created, refined and polished.
“I feel like it is rare to find the space to share something just because you loved making it,” Perry says. “Even more rare is the opportunity to make a decent earning from that work.”
In the seven years since the Aerial Showcase first debuted and she started producing it, Perry says change has been inevitable. Growth has come in the form of the number of shows offered, the ages of the performers, and technical capabilities. Additionally, both the Bellingham Circus Guild and Bellingham Circus Productions are now nonprofits, meaning she doesn’t have to fund the show with her credit card.
Ticket prices are higher than they’ve been in past years, but that’s because Perry and her co-producer, Anneka Deacon, want to make sure as much of the profits as possible go to the performers—many of which are practicing their art on a professional level both regionally and in far-flung locales.
That includes Perry, who will be leaving soon to perform in Switzerland on a six-month contract that starts in June.
“I am treasuring every moment I get to spend at the Bellingham Circus Guild,” Perry says, “which I truly think is the best spot for creative work I’ve ever encountered.”
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