With In-Flight Theater, her aerial storytelling and dance operation, Mara Neimanis is hoping to break the boundaries of the conventional circus. Like the classic trapeze artists of Barnum & Bailey, her performance style is graceful and dangerous, and features her flying, suspended high above the floor. But she offers audiences something they won't find in a traditional three-ring: story. "Circus is basically built on spectacle and virtuosity. In traditional circus, the aerialists do not perform very close up -- they want it to seem that they're doing something dangerous and amazing," she says. "If it's just showing skill and strength, that's wonderful, but after a while, I want something that's a little bit more. Something that can connect to an audience, speak to an audience. "I create plays off the ground," she says. "My concentration is on intention, creating aerial work that has room for character, that has text, and interpretation." Neimanis' next play, Naomi's Flight (Feb. 21 through March 3 at Theatre Project), is a 60-minute solo aerial performance that takes place on three asymmetrical, suspended, steel sculptures designed by her longtime collaborator Tim Scofield. The play is based on Neimanis' experience with her mother, who has dementia. The subject matter, she says, is a particularly resonant way of demonstrating how her aerial dance can be used as metaphor. "If you have dementia," she says, "you are often upside down and rightside up."
Craig Lamas, handout
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