Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Chapter 166: Christmas Showcase at Flying Fantastic

Sarah and Katy at Flying Fantastic demonstrating that aerial skills are good for your elf
On Sunday evening Flying Fantastic hosted an end of term Christmas show where students showcased their skills to friends and family. I had been once before a couple of years ago, coming across Flying Fantastic quite by chance, and keen to support circus in my local neighbourhood (Chapter 53 - click here). It was a great night, Edel and Chris Wigan the founders were so welcoming we have been in touch ever since. I ended up going on a fire-eating course (Chapter 88 - click here) with Rachael, one of the students I met in the interval, as well. 

Young Flyer Dugan
This time, my 8 year old daughter, a regular now at Flying Fantastic in the young flyers classes, came along for the ride. Going on automatic we rocked up to our old haunt in Battersea, only to find the show was happening at the jazzy new premises in The Arches, on Union Street, Borough. Doh! Of course it would be! The car was operating on reduced power (aren't we all?!) due to engine problems, but somehow we made it in the nick of time ("Er Mum, didn't the message flashing on the dashboard advise you to drive moderately?!" I was!), to catch Dugan, the son of one of my oldest friends, perform an astonishing turn on silks that held us spellbound. There were three other acts featuring young flyers, all similarly inspiring and a real eye-opener for my daughter to see. "These are the performers of the future" declared ringmaster Kate, "and a credit to young people everywhere". Too right!

Victoria and Dan

My daughter's other favourite act was the duo on aerial chains, "because I've never seen anything like that before, Mummy", as two sexy ladies strutted on in pvc and wearing blindfolds, putting the Sohoho oomph into Christmas. It was a brilliant tease of a piece entitled "Pretty Painful" set to the lyrics "I want to chain you up/I want to tie you down/I'm just a sucker for pain..." Of course, that went completely over the head of an 8 year old who was simply enchanted by the new shapes and sheer contrast to familiar silks. Another new piece of apparatus was the aerial net, which reminded my daughter of her favourite cocoon, so clever and looked enormous fun. 

Wee as Rafiki
While the rest of the acts were on hoop and silks, there was plenty of novelty to distinguish each in turn. Duets could be on a pair of hoops, a pair of silks, or one of each, movement either symmetrical or synchronised. They were all on a par in terms of level of skill and flexibility, executing split balances in footlocks on silks and dizzying rolls on hoops, but what distinguished each was the unique personalities that shone through, accentuated in costume and make-up. I loved the black and white chequered and stripey leggings that kicked off to circus music, the touches of lace and gold lamé, the monkey boy paint and antics of the Lion King Rafiki character, and the stunning peacock with a feathered hat and train as long as the silks she ascended. These were people who pulled out all the stops and had a lot of fun in the process; the energy was infectious.

Efi The Peacock
There were fourteen acts in total, compered by the inimitable Ringmaster Kate Hart who entertained while explaining to an audience, the majority of whom were unfamiliar with aerial skills, how difficult the training was, #circushurts after all, and how hard the students worked. It was important that she did that as the performers all made it look so effortless. None of those students do circus skills for a living, but what they all have in common is a passion that drives them forward, and what is great about Flying Fantastic is that not only provide space to train, but a performance space to bring it all together. 

Ringmaster Kate

It was great to see, but also rather poignant as it brought home to me that it has been two years now since I first saw a Scratch Night at Flying Fantastic and dreamed of having a go, and yet I am still  in no fit state. Ironically, I have a rope class at Flying Fantastic tonight taught by Danny Ash, one of the performers from the Ssshhh! cabaret I put on at Jacksons Lane in June (Chapter 153 - click here). 

So maybe I'll get there next year, eh?! There's even talk of a mother and daughter double act?! We'll get by, with a little help from our friends...

Many congrats to Young Flyers Maya & Jo, Fimi, Xenia and Dugan, and to the adults Wee & Miley, Eleanor & Jenni, Vicky & Gera, Dan & Victoria, Efi, Laura & Brittany, Clare & Naomi, Charlotte & Erika, Sarah & Katy, superstars all - thank you for a terrific night. 

In true circus spirit, the proceeds of the evening went to a charity called Safe Passage, who provides education for the children and their families living in the garbage dumps of Guatemala City, as Edel knows first hand, having worked out there 15 years ago, and has run the UK arm for them ever since. For more information click here:

If you are thinking of giving aerial classes a go, Flying Fantastic ( run classes in Battersea, Wimbledon, and Union St, their new flagship premises that has to be seen to be believed, and has the best loo sign ever! Flying Fantastic currently have a newbie offer on for packs of classes and run daytime, as well as evening, classes, open 7 days a week. There is so much on offer including classes in flexibility, pilates, aerial yoga, as well as static trapeze, rope, silks, straps, chains and aerial pole. Keep an eye out for workshops for the more experienced as well, such as the dance trapeze morning with aerialist Serenity Smith Forchion on Sunday, 8 January, whose CV includes Cirque du Soleil, Ringling Bros and numerous awards. 

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