Lynn Coleman seeking high flyers for Aerial Acrobatic Arts Festival

Big Air ski-jumping in Civic Center Park not enough spectacle for you? A call for fans and practitioners of high-flying acrobatics -- on trapeze, hoops, fabric and other riggings -- is now underway for Denver's first Aerial Acrobatic Arts Festival, May 12-15, at the Oriental Theater.

Billed as the first event of its kind in the country -- a kind of Cirque de Soleil for aerialists who aren't quite amateurs but not yet paid professionals -- the fest is being organized by Lynn Coleman, a former Denver School Board member with a family history in acrobatics.

Coleman's father, Ben, has been a key mover in the Imperial Flyers, quite possibly the oldest continuously operating amateur trapeze group in the world, which began as a gym project at the University of Denver, operated out of the YMCA for decades, and now runs a rig in a field in Westminster. Ben toured with his young daughters in various acrobatic routines and in a European version of Holiday on Ice.

Lynn has carried on the tradition. She was once a fill-in flyer with the Shrine Circus and has launched an aerial fabric performing company that has done regular shows at The Church and elsewhere around town. Intrigued by different concepts of aerial festivals that she's encountered in her travels, she started gathering sponsors for a semipro competition at the Oriental that would hopefully attract competitors from far-flung locales, competing for cash prizes and the oohs and aahs of the audience.

For more on the mission and scope of the festival, check out the official website. Applicants must not be "full time performing aerialists" and are encouraged to submit video of their act (no shorter 330 seconds, no longer than 390) by a February 11 deadline.

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Alan Prendergast has been writing for Westword for over thirty years. He teaches journalism at Colorado College; his stories about the justice system, historic crimes, high-security prisons and death by misadventure have won numerous awards and appeared in a wide range of magazines and anthologies.
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