S.T. Shimi, a current Aerial Horizon student and Jump-Start company member, has provided this history of aerials in our new studio at the Blue Star Arts Complex. Aerial Horizon is honored to be a part of this history and continue the tradition of pushing boundaries on and off the floor in our historic space. We are happy that we can keep art alive in the Blue Star Arts Complex and we’re looking forward to bringing new aerial productions and classes to the San Antonio community.
History of Aerials at Blue Star
By S.T. Shimi
Aerial Horizon’s current space in the Blue Star Arts Complex has a deep history that also includes experimentation in aerial dance. It originally housed Jump-Start Performance Co. as one of the anchor tenants in Bernard Lifshutz’ vision for the property. For almost 20 years, Jump-Start created and staged original work of all kinds in and around the space.
The history of aerial performance here begins in the late ‘90s when D Patton White performed beautiful duets with Paul Bonin-Rodriguez on a low-flying trapeze for the B’Alamo Project, that included many pioneers of the modern dance scene at that time. In the early 2000s, Sandy Dunn and S.T. Shimi started training in and using off-the-ground dance learned over several summers at the Aerial Dance Festival in Boulder, Colorado. They explored this work in site-specific performances covering water issues in Watermark 1.0 & 1.5. Shimi also combined aerial silks with political activism to create On The Island, which toured to the Asian American Theater Festival in New York. Other uses of aerial work include Lisa Suarez swinging like Tarzan for a fabulous comic surprise in Sterling Houston’s Hollywood & Time, the Company scaling the outside walls in harnesses, a cargo net rigged on the porch for Sandy Dunn’s Finding Love in Wartime, Sheila Sisler-Currie portraying a celestial being swinging high above the outdoor porch for Kim Corbin’s Chosen One (2013), and aerial straps were incorporated into Laurie Dietrich’s ritual theater work Hetarae (2013) to great dramatic effect, among many other productions over the years.
Several of Aerial Horizon’s artists, including Julia Langenberg and Elise Sipos, have performed their aerial work in this space at W-I-P (Wednesdays In Performance/Works In Progress) for feedback on their new pieces. Aerial Horizon’s company members also performed in Jump-Start’s final event Performance Party 29: Wrecking Ball (2014), with Daniel Stern performing on straps and Julia Langenberg performing on lyra to live music by Joshua Grohman and Shannon McKenna. Steve Bailey and Billy Muñoz elevated many of these works over the years with their incredible lighting.
The history of this space as one that you could fly in and make visually striking, thoughtful art while doing so is rich and inspiring. Aerial Horizon is thrilled to build on this, and continue sharing the beauty of aerial dance at 108 Blue Star!
Aerial Horizon aided in the training and choreography of this aerial act at Jump-Start.