Published August 09. 2014 3:58PM Updated August 10. 2014 12:11AM
New London — The Nimble Arts Circus acrobats stunned spectators Saturday with their trapeze dancing that nearly caused their bodies to graze the ground at Parade Plaza.
The Vermont-based Nimble Arts Circus was in New London for the fifth year in a row, and more than 200 people turned out to see the six-person team. The interactive performance slowed traffic as drivers paused to watch acrobats fly through the air and performers incorporated bus honks and train noise as best they could into the show.
“It’s a lovely little place,” said Anthony Oliva, a circus performer. “We rolled down Bank Street. It’s a cute little town and fun to perform with the train.”
The performers twirled from a trapeze, balanced foot to palm high in the sky and jumped through thin golden hoops, all in a space of 25 feet by 25 feet. The trapeze hung from a metal structure 16 feet high off the ground.
“I would be all tied up and stuck up there for who knows how long,” said Ed Napolitano of Jewett City. “I am not good with knots.”
Napolitano was referring to a graceful yet athletic performance by Aimee Hancock, a circus performer who climbed up the ropes of the trapeze, twisted herself around and around, only to magically untangle herself and land upside-down with her legs in splits. She performed to “Hearts a Mess” by Gotye, from “The Great Gatsby” soundtrack, wearing a black and gold unitard.
“Staying present with the audience, with the music and the apparatus,” is the most challenging part, Hancock said.
To prepare for her minutes in the air, where at times she dangles from her feet upside-down from the trapeze and at other times dangles another person from her feet while holding onto the trapeze herself, she spends five to seven hours a day, five to six days a week, practicing.
Oliva, who performed a floor dance and acrobatic performance with Aiya Alvarado to violin music, said he spends two hours a day with his partner and coach practicing the lifts. During the show, Oliva lay on his back with his arms above his head. Alvarado stepped onto his palms and gave him a cue by waving her arms. He lifted her feet and body straight into the air.
Other acts included a double hula hoop performance by Melissa Knowles, who wore a red sequin-covered shorts onesie and a sassy smile. She spun two hula hoops simultaneously in different directions from different parts of her body while keeping rhythm to “Ooh La La” by Goldfrapp.
Audience participation was high, with children exclaiming, “Mom, you can do that,” or “That looks so fun!”
Children and adults were also invited to perform with the host of the show, Bill Forchion. One young girl bravely climbed onto Forchion’s shoulders, to hearty applause.
At the start of the show, Forchion explained that the circus was the only type of art form that required audience participation. He said the circus was a circle of trust, care and daring activities.
“You complete the circle,” Forchoin said.
Before the circus’ two afternoon performances, Forchoin and troop member Edgar Ortiz taught about a dozen people how to juggle balls, scarves and hoops.
There are different things to juggle so “you can find out what your body wants to manipulate,” Forchion said.
Ryan Spivak, 14, of Los Angeles, Calif., who was visiting his grandparents in New London and excelled at juggling three balls, said he was having fun but wouldn’t be joining the circus anytime soon.
Nimble Arts Circus was founded 11 years ago by twins Elsie Smith and Serenity Smith Forchion. The group has performed with such well-known groups as Cirque du Soleil and Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey.