It might be the year 2017, but for a few hours over the weekend it will be the 1930s. The Aerial Studio in Ventura will be transformed into Mister Mey Hem’s Magic Factory, a fantastical world filled with mischief, magic and hope rolled into an amazing performance. The Spring Showcase will feature the studio’s kids and teen troupe performing on the silks, trapeze, trampoline wall, Spanish web (a vertical hanging rope) and aerial cube, as well as doing dance, acrobatic and circus routines. In short, they’ll be sharing an amazingly good time while showing off some fierce skills.
The showcase caps off a semester of hard work. The season’s focus has been on precision, so the students wanted to pick a theme for the showcase that would embody that. Working with their director Ana Ming Bostwick-Singer and assistant director Frankie Lombardo, the troupe came up with the idea of factories and assembly lines as fitting metaphors. This brought up the 1930s, which led to images of the Great Depression. This sparked the creation of Mister Mey Hem, the mysterious owner of a 1930s novelty factory. “Mister Mey Hem wants to create a way to fix everything,” says Wren Schaefer, the studio manager. “He wants to bring joy and happiness into the world and find a way to lift people out of the Great Depression. Fiascos and crazy things happen until everyone comes to one magical realization.”
The performers, ranging in ages from 9 to 18, have been rehearsing for months. Schaefer says it has been an incredibly rewarding experience. The Aerial Studio is a noncompetitive environment yet the students train at an advanced level. As Schaefer explains, they train in high-level acrobatics on professional equipment. They learn tricks, increase their flexibility and express their creativity. They also learn the very important lesson of trust — in themselves and in their partners.
During the semester, each student has focused on improving his or her own skills, but in preparation for the showcase, they’ve had the chance to work as a team. “The kids get so into it,” Schaefer says. “It brings everyone together.” The kids helped develop the different acts and were encouraged to be creative. Some will do aerial routines, some will dance, others will perform as clowns. Some will work their magic behind the scenes. “Everybody brings something to the table,” says Schaefer with pride.
The showcase is a celebration of the performers’ dedication, talent and teamwork. It’s also a reflection of the passion and love put into the Aerial Studio by owners Gregg and Carmen Curtis. Both have performed with Cirque du Soleil, and worked with such entertainment giants as Beyoncé, The Los Angeles Philharmonic, Metropolitan Opera, Dancing with the Stars and others. They founded The Aerial Studio in 2012 for their daughter, Zoe, and also because they felt there was a need for a place like Aerial in Ventura. Today, kids, teens and adults learn how to defy gravity while growing stronger and more confident in a safe environment in which they are free to express themselves. “As a studio we are so grateful for Carmen and Gregg who work really hard so that we can have such an amazing place in Ventura,” says Schaefer. Hard work is a theme for everyone at the studio, one that pays off in incalculable dividends.
All that passion will be on full display at the showcase, and audiences will get a rare opportunity to watch incredible aerial performances up-close. It will be held at the studio, which has seating for an intimate gathering of 100. It will also give audiences a peek into the same world where the performers hone their skills, test their courage and accomplish goals. It’s more than Mister Mey Hem’s Magic Factory; it’s the place where imaginations soar, friendships are made, and bodies as well as spirits get stronger. That’s the real magic.
Mister Mey Hem’s Magic Factory runs May 20-21 at The Aerial Studio, 4476 DuPont Court, Ventura. For more information, call 340-3412 or visit www.theaerialstudio.net.