Fees College Prep Aerial Cirque Club Presents Captivating Spring Performance
If you had the chance to climb, hang upside down, and flip yourself in the air on a long piece of silk fabric, would you do it? A scary thought to some, students in the Aerial Cirque Club at Fees College Preparatory Middle School are not only fearless to this method of acrobatics and dance but commit to these movements with style and grace.
The Aerial Cirque Club recently debuted their first annual spring performance – “Curiouser + Curiouser” – an Alice in Wonderland-themed production complete with student-designed costumes, makeup, and props. Fees College Prep Dance and Theater Director Helen Buck-Pavlick has been leading this group of talented students to their success.
“All of our aerialists have been working hard all year to make improvements to their technique, learn choreography, and bring magic to this performance,” said Buck-Pavlick.
The scene began with Alice, played by Sixth-Grader Layla Haalpala, reading and daydreaming under a tree. A mysterious White Rabbit, played by Eighth-Grader Julia De Rienzo, enters and leads Alice down the rabbit hole to Wonderland and Looking Glass Land. Colorful, large silk ribbons of bright red and yellow hang from the ceiling while students climb themselves up and delicately twirl around and down. A trapeze hoop and a rope swing were used by not one, but sometimes two students at a time, to flip, twirl, and hang upside down.
The whimsical music guided the dancers through each scene weaving together a story communicated solely through movement. Coming across both friends and foes, Alice journeys through this magical world until the creatures bid Alice farewell, but when she awakes, she finds it was only a dream.
Due to the combination of strength and movement needed to suspend themselves in the air, the Fees Aerial Cirque Club began rehearsing in the beginning of the school year. Students practiced and mentored each other while assembling the aerial techniques they learned into the choreography. Sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade students auditioned for their roles and then began working together to create their solos, duets, and ensemble numbers.
“Their creativity simply amazed me as they came in every week with a new idea for how to develop their characters and add magic to the show and make the story come alive,” said Buck-Pavlick.
From the performers to the crew members, the entire “Curiouser + Curiouser” show was produced by students. Students even designed lights for the show and learned how to operate the light board. Sixth-graders Holly Teserio and Natalie Martin, who played Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum respectively, were both very proud of how the performance turned out.
“Our actors are really good at telling the story,” said Martin. “We always loved coming to practice because it helped relieve stress, and we had a lot of fun rehearsing our parts.”
“We practiced really hard for weeks,” said Teserio. “I would come home so tired, just wanting to go to sleep, but woke up excited to go to practice again and just be a part of it.”
Although many students in the Aerial Cirque Club are in agreement that they would like to continue practicing aerial acrobatics, Haalpala firmly believes that she has found her calling. She notes Buck-Pavlick as her biggest inspiration.
“I plan on making this my career one day,” said Haalpala.
The students weren’t the only ones proud of their work. Their dedication, determination, and devotion clearly came through to the audience members as they watched the performance unfold. Buck-Pavlick could be seen applauding, and beaming at her students as they all came together at the end of the show to hold hands to take a group bow.
“To say that I feel proud of how hard they have worked to make this all possible would be an understatement,” said Buck-Pavlick. “I am so honored to be able to work with and mentor these amazing students. They are truly inspiring and have exceeded even my highest expectations.”
Arts education is essential as it cultivates curiosity, creativity, and collaboration. Physical education is essential as it strengthens the body and mind and cultivates discipline and teamwork. Aerial acrobatics is a unique combination of the two, with the added benefit of learning an interesting and creative skill. The Fees College Prep Aerial Cirque Club students are already enthusiastically planning next year’s performances! We look forward to seeing more productions and support their amazing work.