Animal Aerialists Reach New Heights in Menagerie

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Photo by Kellianne Doyle, Staff photographer

College sophomore Anika Lindsey showcases her fish-themed routine during the OC Aerialists performance, 'Menagerie.' The aerialists, clad in colorful animal costumes, presented a cohesive show complete with silks, hoops and tightrope acts.

Michelle Fikrig

The Oberlin College Aerialists flaunted their members’ technical skill in their routines while clothed in playful animal costumes at Menagerie, a whimsical showcase held in Hales Gymnasium Sunday evening. Eight performers impressed with a mixture of performances on silks, a hanging hoop and a tightrope, with a few tumbling moves thrown in as performers walked on and off the mats. Two members, College seniors Molly Gorin and Caitrin Hughes, made their debut on Sunday, but their skill level and energy made them look like veteran performers.

Gorin kicked off the performance to Raffi’s “Bananaphone,” setting the mood for a lively and entertaining show. Her quirky imitation of a monkey determined to reach the banana phone at the top of the silks kept many audience members laughing. The energy she brought to her character by shaking her monkey ears — represented by hair buns — and hips to the ring-a-dings of the song’s lyrics was only eclipsed by the technical finesse of her performance. The variety of tricks she incorporated into her routine, from straddles to several climbing techniques, all contributed to her impish monkey persona and the overall good-humored nature of the performance. The catchy beat, ridiculous lyrics, playful attitude and literal heights Gorin reached made one hope that the rest of the show would be just as technically impressive and engaging.

College sophomore Juliette Glickman’s tightrope act may have begun timidly, but throughout the performance she pulled out impressive tricks. As the only routine performed on the tightrope, Glickman’s performance was a perfect break in the lineup. Compared to the quick beats and dramatic twirls and drops of the aerialists who performed on silks and hoops, Glickman’s slow jazz soundtrack set her routine apart. Glickman’s feet appeared to be strumming the strings of a violin or cello as she shuffled and jumped along the rope. In perhaps one of the most remarkable moves of the evening, Glickman slowly lowered herself into a front split on the tight rope. The audience responded to the extraordinary display of flexibility and muscle control with a mix of gasps and audible cries of “no way.” While splits and other acts of incredible flexibility were a part of every routine, the slow tempo of Glickman’s performance emphasized the strength necessary for such a controlled move. The audience was able to see every wobble and appreciate how much balance plays into every move.

The audience members roared with laughter at College senior Maya Muenzer’s performance of “Funky Town” in a skunk costume. Her routine started out with a conga line of all the animals dancing along behind her — that is, until her skunk spray hit and the rest of the performers scattered backstage. Muenzer swung her tail around to the lyrics of the song and made goofy faces between pike-throughs and straddle-ups. Her routine was not only funny but technically challenging as well; she dangled from the hoop using only her ankles as she shimmied to the music.

While past Oberlin College Aerialists shows have been criticized for their lack of decoration and set elements, Menagerie used its theme simplistically yet effectively. The way aerialists incorporated the banana throughout the show up until the closing bows and the group’s successful costuming created a cohesive theme throughout the pieces. College senior Molly Barger as a curious squirrel turned silent host acted as an additional unifying element that helped create a narrative and add another humorous component. The aerialists successfully navigated the sparseness of Hales Gymnasium to put on a compelling and eclectic performance.