Before she leaves the United States for an extended period, Bellingham Circus Guild member Jennifer Perry, 32, decided she wanted to show off her skills one more time. We caught up with the aerialist last week to find out more about the Aerial Arts Showcase she’s putting together—with some help from her friends.
Cascadia Weekly: What was the impetus to host an Aerial Arts Showcase?
Jennifer Perry: It’s purely selfish. I’m moving to Saudi Arabia for a year and am not sure if I’m going to be able to do much aerial work there. We didn’t have any gigs coming up, so I thought I’d create one.
CW: What in the world are you going to be doing in Saudi?
JP: I’ll be teaching Pilates to members of the royal family.
CW: That’s pretty cool. What can people expect at your farewell performance?
JP: Most of the shows at the Bellingham Circus Guild are more multi-dimensional. This is just an aerial show. I’m really excited that it’s highlighting the aerialists of the Guild. This is a really unique community to have such a strong support system for this art.
CW: How long have you been an aerialist with the Circus Guild?
JP: I started in 2008, so almost five years.
CW: How long do most aerialists study the craft before they start performing? When did you start?
JP: It’s entirely up to each individual. It really depends on what ground zero you’re starting from, as it takes a huge amount of strength and so much conditioning. I was performing within nine months of starting, but that’s fast. You decide when you’re ready, and it’s always a process.
CW: Do you think women learn faster than men?
JP: Boys tend to do better, faster, because they have stronger upper bodies. They do more of the tricks faster, but tend to lack some of the flexibility.
CW: I’ve seen some aerial shows at the Bellingham Circus Guild. It seems like what you’re doing is pretty dangerous.
JP: Yeah, it’s really dangerous. I had a partner in Germany who fell during a show and got a traumatic brain injury. Luckily, she’s doing really well and is back to being herself. But you’ve always got to be careful, and be mindful. Part of the beauty and part of the attraction is the danger; it has to be respected.
CW: What does it feel like to be an aerialist?
JP: It’s really great. It’s flying; it’s a different way to fly.
CW: How are you liking the new Bellingham Circus Guild space in Fairhaven?
JP: I love the new space. We have a lot more room—especially to hang things from the ceiling. More people can practice simultaneously, and there are also windows, skylights and heated floors. It’s a much more inspiring and spacious place. Hopefully it’ll become our permanent home.
CW: So you’re able to perform in the new space?
JP: Yes, and we’re working to get a permanent permit for performance. We have to add bathrooms and there are a few other construction projects to take care of. October was the first Vaudevillingham here. It felt really good.
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