The inability to lift your own body weight is embarrassing, even crushingly so, without an audience. You can imagine then, my reaction to the suggestion of trying out an aerial fabrics class during Culture Days.
But, it was some remnant glimmer of childhood circus dreams that eventually pushed me out the door.
Monica’s Danz Gym, which now operates out of a unit on Scurfield, is now in it’s 20th season. Eleven of those seasons have included aerial work.
Owner and artistic director Monica Goermann first partnered up with instructor Liz Cooper, who had trained with aerial fabrics in Boulder, Colorado.
Goermann’s husband is also involved. He’s an engineer who rigs the fabrics and tests them for safety.
“It’s been a three-person partnership to get it where it is today,” Goermann says.
Having undergone a brief stint as a cheerleader, and briefer yet run as a gymnast, I was concerned that my skills would be lacking - but was surprised by the open atmosphere and level-appropriate skills at the open house.
“Really, there’s no set rule,” Goermann insists. “Even if you’ve never done anything like this in your life, there’s nothing to say that you can’t play with it and go far.”
For Goermann, it’s all about inviting people to play.
“It is exercise - but that’s not my main focus.”
Instead, the real benefit of the fabrics lies in a return to some deeply, embedded nostalgic place.
“I just want (people) to experience the joy of swinging again, and the creativity that is involved in working with that fabric.”
Hopefully, this will come through in the gym’s first full length production, called Seeking Grace, slated for completion in March of 2013.
Seeking Grace will focus on one girl’s journey of self-exploration, partially influenced by Goermann’s own experiences. She travelled the world as a gymnast representing the Canadian National Team, including a stint at the 1980 Olympics.
Many of the pieces are already in place: in fact, her dancers performed two of them during the open-house demonstration for Culture Days.
Though we were working with knots only a foot off the ground, I felt a giddy rush the first time I flipped over and just let go. Goermann believes in this feeling, and that it’s strong enough to capture the masses.
“(Winnipeg) has so much potential for growth,” she adds. “(It) is strong for the arts in general.
“That famous line “Oh, I didn’t know you did that in Winnipeg,” is getting better - we’re not hearing that line as much.”