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100 Colorado Creatives: Nancy Smith of Frequent Flyers Aerial Dance

Nancy Smith dangling in a sphere.
Nancy Smith dangling in a sphere.
David Andrews

#74: Nancy Smith

The sky's not the limit for Frequent Flyers founder and director Nancy Smith, who literally hangs around most days at her Boulder aerial-dance studio: teaching, choreographing, visualizing, directing and dancing, sometimes in an upside-down position. It's a rare profession, with one hand reaching clear up into the stratosphere, and if you want to learn more about it here in Colorado, you'll want to fly up and see Smith.

See also:

- It's a circus out there: Frequent Flyers brings Cirque de Minuet to The Dairy

- Ratcracker is back, a high-flying alternative to Nutcracker

- Best Flight School, 2010: Frequent Flyers Aerial Dance Studio

Nancy Smith: "Perennially looking up and holding a carabiner. Classic!"
Nancy Smith: "Perennially looking up and holding a carabiner. Classic!"

Smith's Frequent Flyers troupe has been wowing regional audiences for 25 years with such perennial seasonal favorites as Ratcracker and Theatre of the Vampires, and the studio attracts aerial dancers from around the world each summer for its intensive International Aerial Dance Festival.

Who is Nancy Smith? She's a woman of action and few words, married to her work even when it's dangling by a thread. No stranger to the art of fundraising, she's currently working hard to throw a benefit that befits Frequent Flyers' silver celebration: Cirque de Minuit (The Midnite Circus) Experience, a glitzy party featuring an informal reprise of last year's elegant Cirque de Minuit performances at the Dairy Center in Boulder. Featuring live music by Jesse Manno and graceful aerial acrobatics, the entertainment is just one element of an evening that also includes nibbles and a cash bar while you wander informally under and around the dancers.

The party goes down at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 4, at the Studio Loft at the Ellie in Denver. Purchase tickets, $65, at Brown Paper Tickets or visit Frequent Flyers online.

Because we wanted to know what makes Nancy Smith tick, both on the ground and up in the air, we asked her to answer our 100CC questionnaire; read on to find out what in the world sends Nancy Smith over the moon, in Colorado and beyond.

Nancy Smith as a red devil in "Theatre of the Vampires."
Nancy Smith as a red devil in "Theatre of the Vampires."
David Andrews

Westword: If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?

Nancy Smith: Wow. That's a hard one. Alwin Nikolais. Prince. This is the one question that I just couldn't answer, so I'm giving you off-the-cuff answers after trying on lots of ideas.

Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?

The writer Anne Carson. Her unconventional use of the page, metaphor, imagistic language and sharp turns in plot lines. It's like a dance in zero gravity. 

What's one art trend you want to see die this year?

Who am I to judge?

What's your day job?

Running my aerial dance company, Frequent Flyers® Aerial Dance.

A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it?

• Have our own building with two aerial studios (one could double as a "cabaret style" performance venue). The exterior would allow us to do site-specific wall-work on the building.

• Create an endowment to sustain the company over the long-term.

• Pay the dancers a living wage.

• Tour / travel.

• Commission artists to build interesting apparatus and structures for us to perform on.

• Commission other artists from other art forms to collaborate with us (visual, music, video, etc.).

What's the one thing Denver (or Colorado) could do to help the arts?

Make the venues more affordable for us to rent. Remove the seat tax. 

Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?

George Peters. Art Lande.

What's the rest of 2013 looking like for you?

Tons of projects that are all different and involve great collaborations:

Mapping (exploring genetics and interactive video technology / aerial dance / physical theater) at Atlas Black Box Theatre with Stalker Theatre from Australia as part of the fifteenth annual  International Aerial Dance Festival. 

Theatre of the Vampires. October 31, with musical guests (TBD) (tentative).

• November 2 collaboration with Boulder Ballet and Boulder Philharmonic on "Appalachian Spring." We're doing the aerial.

• Lots of performances on the portable outdoor rig / bringing our art to the people!

• Teaching at the Aerial Dance Festival and our new crop of pro training students in the Fall.

Throughout the year, we'll be shining the spotlight on 100 superstars from Denver's rich creative community. Stay tuned to Show and Tell for more, or visit the 100 Colorado Creatives archive to catch up.

Do you have a suggestion for a future profile? Feel free to leave your picks in the comments.


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Related Locations

miles
Frequent Flyers Aerial Dance Studio

3022 E. Sterling Circle
Boulder, CO 80301

303-245-8272

www.frequentflyers.org

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Ellie Caulkins Opera House

Denver Performing Arts Complex
Denver, CO 80202


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