We had the good fortune of connecting with Nancy Smith and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nancy, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Risk taking is inherent in living and art. It was risky to start a non-profit aerial dance company 33 years ago when the genre wasn’t widely known or acknowledged as a dance art form. Dancing in the air has risk – anytime you are higher than you can jump and/or inverted you are at risk of injury. Training safely and thoroughly prevents the risk. Our youth-at-risk program, Kids Who Fly, is modeled on adventure based therapies that rely on participants overcoming fear with healthy safe risk-taking in our aerial classes. This replaces other risky behaviors (drugs, alcohol, etc.). Putting my art out into the world feels risky but necessary.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
“He who dares, loses his footing for a time. He who dares not, loses himself.” Soren Kirkegaard The art form of aerial dance was relatively unknown when I began Frequent Flyers in 1988. It was not recognized as a dance form and misunderstood by most as a gimmick or circus. Pushing against the boundaries and making performances for the public which were overwhelmingly well-received helped us grow and keep going. Educating the public, fellow dancers, presenters, critics, and funders was a huge undertaking. In 2008, I co-authored the only history of the art form which further assisted in its widespread appeal and understanding. There were many supporters of the work which helped me to keep going. Perseverance is key. Keep doing your art no matter what, which is especially important during this unprecedented global pandemic. About our art: we keep learning and shifting with the currents so we can continue to make great work. And we look forward to the next 33 years!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If we weren’t in the middle of a pandemic… Frequent Flyers’ Aerial Dance Studios, Chautauqua, Mesa Trail, Pearl Street, Dushanbe Tea House, Dairy Arts Center, St. Vrain River for tubing if it’s the right time of year, walking/ hiking everywhere, Frequent Flyers Aerial Dance, Celestial Seasonings is fun… Whatever arts activities are on! The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My mentor, Terry Sendgraff, the mother of aerial dance. As a non-profit aerial dance company: all the donors, grant makers, boards of directors, audiences, dancers, staff and collaborators.
Other: Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/search?q=frequent%20flyers%20aerial%20dance