Aerialists flying high in Olympia

Aviary studio aerials Sara Sparrow performs at the "Brotherhood Takes Flight" show

By Nikki McCoy on January 29, 2014

Sara Sparrow is an entertainer. She is a contortionist, an aerialist, a dancer, a master of acrobatics and a teacher. She has, as she calls it, "a circus background."

Many of Sparrow's shows are performed in Seattle, where she does solo and collaborative work and is a member of the Aerialistas, "Seattle's Original Aerial Girl Gang," with whom she has performed internationally on several occasions.

However, she does perform in Olympia as well - specifically, at the monthly "Brotherhood Takes Flight" show, where she occasionally guest performs with the Tallhouse Arts Consortium. And about every three months, she performs at The Aviary, an aerial and acrobatic studio she manages on Mud Bay Road in Olympia.

Her next performance is Feb. 5 at The Brotherhood Lounge. The show is free, and tips for the performers are encouraged.

"I don't know of any other bar show, or even regular aerial show, that attracts such a huge crowd and is really supported and enjoyed by the community in the way the Brotherhood shows are," Sparrow said. "The shows are special because the audience is so close and involved. It really makes for an amazing time for both performers and spectators."

Why does Sparrow believe there is such an appeal for this timeless type of performance?

"The human dream of flight is such a pervasive cultural and individual longing," she said. "I think there is some small way in which aerial performance satisfies that dream - (both) for the audience and the performer.

"Aerial shows are thrilling, touching, and dynamic in turns. We all know how it feels to have a body, and to see human bodies pushing the limits of what is possible, physically, is both tangible to people and improbable."

Her next performance following The Brotherhood show will be with the Vagabond Opera at the Olympia Ballroom Feb. 22. And for those interested in learning the art themselves, the Aviary is offering an Intro to Aerial class starting in mid-March.

"My best advice for newbies of aerial, or any movement discipline, is patience and perseverance," Sparrow said. "Every single person can become an amazing aerialist if you doggedly train three days a week, allow it to be difficult, and keep pushing through the challenges."

If you want to try the fitness part of aerial, Marlo Winter leads an Hour of Power conditioning class every Tuesday from 7 to 8 p.m. at the Aviary. $10 drop-in cost. Email sparrowclasses@gmail.com for details about classes or upcoming shows at the Aviary.

THE BROTHERHOOD TAKES FLIGHT, 8 p.m., first Wednesdays, The Brotherhood Lounge, 119 Capitol Way, Olympia, free admission, 360.352.4153

A WINTER CARNIVAL, WITH VAGABOND OPERA, punk accordion by Jason Webley and performance by Sara Sparrow, 9 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 22, Olympia Ballroom, 116 Legion Way, Olympia, $15 adults, $10 youth, 360.259.1589