Asheville aerial arts production enthralls local audience

By Maddie StagnaroStaff Writer – mstagnar@unca.edu

Photo by Brian Vu - Staff Photographer Phoenix and Heather Poole hang upside down during Asheville Aerial Arts’ production of UP at the Asheville Jewish Community Center, Saturday.
Photo by Brian Vu – Staff Photographer
Phoenix and Heather Poole hang upside down during Asheville Aerial Arts’ production of UP at the Asheville Jewish Community Center, Saturday.

Asheville Aerial Arts Production performed their own version of the Pixar film Up. Using what gymnasts call silk slings, stilts, Spanish web and the German wheel, 12 performers did their artistic interpretation of Carl and his story of adventure.

Each performance was unique and upheld a theme from Up. One piece introduced Russell, the little boy Carl meets on his journey. The performance for this part of the story featured a young child, Xavier Aiken, on the silk slings. Another piece featured Julie Vann on stilts, playing Kevin, the extinct bird who likes chocolate. One of Kevin’s baby birds was added as a clever and creative prop.

Monique Cote, of Miami, currently working at Warren Wilson College, is a certified German wheel coach and founder of Continuum, Western North Carolina’s first German wheel troupe. Cote became involved with the sport by watching Cirque du Soleil.

“I said to myself, ‘I have to do that before I die,’ so I went to a workshop in Chicago where the homebase is in the U.S. and I took a workshop and continued to take workshops until I became a certified coach and we have a group at school.” Cote said.

Erica Oliver, New Hampshire native and student at Warren Wilson College said her favorite part of performing is the people and hearing them clap. She also said there are dangers to her art form such as the height, the momentum and working with metal and hard objects that can be harmful.

“Once you’ve started a trick, you have to commit to finishing it because of the momentum,” Oliver said. “The excitement of putting on a show is the best part, we practice so much and then we’re finally performing and there’s so much adrenalin.”

Cote said she gets very nervous about performing but really does love it.

“I just like making people happy,” Cote said. “ I know when I first saw it, it was all encompassing, like ‘Wow,’ and it’s nice to now make other people do that.”

Cote said she constantly gets inquiries after the show and feels Asheville has responded well to the few shows they’ve done locally. Cote said she primarily teaches Warren Wilson College’s circus group but also gives private lessons upon request.

Alan Malpass and Jessica Hill performed a piece on a trapeze called “Union” to represent the part in the story when Carl meets the love of his life, Ellie, and falls in love with her.

“The couple on the trapeze was my favorite part, it was very impressive” said Mary Andreae, a registered dietitian. “The whole thing is just so impressive, the theme is very creative and I think it’s geared towards anyone that appreciates any kind of performance arts.”

Andreae said she thinks it is important to support local performers and tries to get out to see local performers as much as possible, even though it can be hard with a toddler.

“It’s an eclectic group of people that are talented and expressing themselves and it’s really very Asheville,” Andreae said. “Those who missed out, missed and great, impressive performance.”

Andreae said it is important to support local performers and tries to get out to see local performers as much as possible, even though it can be hard with a toddler.

“It’s an eclectic group of people that are talented and expressing themselves and it’s really very Asheville,” Andreae said. “Those who missed out, missed a great, impressive performance.”

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