Aerial dance class drives W&L students up the wall - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

Aerial dance class drives W&L students up the wall

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Students and Washington & Lee University are literally flying high as they get set to put on a very special performance.  Wednesday and Thursday you can watch them dance -- on the side of a building.

W&L students like Erin Sullivan say they've never taken a class that has driven them up the wall quite like aerial dancing.

"It's an incredible opportunity that really you don't see anywhere else," said Sullivan.

Each year, students at W&L can participate in a special Spring Term where they can take one course for four weeks.  Instructor Jenefer Davies thought it seemed like the perfect opportunity to try something groundbreaking -- or in this case off the ground-breaking.

"You can't go check out a book or a video on rope and harness aerial dance because it doesn't exist," said Davies.  "There are professional companies that do it but there's no set technique, so part of what's exciting about the class is that we're discovering and exploring those areas ourselves."

In fact, Davies says she's not aware of any other university in the US that offers an academic course on rope and harness aerial dance.

She meets with her students every day of the term for eight hours per day.  They work on things like strength training, rope and harness technique, choreography, and performance.  Though physically demanding, and painful from time to time, the students say it's awesome and unlike anything they've ever experienced.

"You're weightless," said W&L aerial dance student Jennifer Ritter.  "It's like you're on the moon.  You can moonwalk along the wall, you can bounce around.  It's a really incredible experience because you lose your orientation of where you are and where you are in relation to space."

They hope that's the same feeling their audience gets during their end of term shows Wednesday and Thursday evening.

"We're able to flip upside down and spin in all kinds of directions, run along the wall," said W&L aerial dance student Blair Davis.  "It really gives the illusion that we're flying and it's pretty amazing to see."

Both shows are free and open to the public.  They start at 5:30pm both days and will take place outside the Lenfest Center for the Arts on the W&L campus (near the intersection of Glasgow and Mclaughlin in Lexington).

Because the class uses professional riggers to set the "stage", it can only afford to do the outdoor performance once every four years.

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