By Rosemary Philips
Imagine watching your mother gracefully gliding through the air, way up high, suspended only by ribbons and ropes.
“When my daughters first saw me rehearsing, the youngest one would kind of shake and it made her nervous,” said Shana Lord, aerialist with Cirque de la Symphonie. “Now it’s part of their day to see Mommy hanging up in the air and they join me for stretching exercises. Before going to bed they often ask, ‘Can we stretch Mommy?’”
Lord started her career at a very young age, and from the most unusual circumstances.
“I was always athletic,” she said. “I used to play hockey in Vancouver. One of the mothers was the coach for one of the only gymnastics programs around. She noticed I could do cartwheels and that I was very flexible and she took me in. That’s where I started, and I eventually became an elite gymnast at the national level.”
From gymnastics Lord went on to dance and attended the Edge Performing Arts Center in Los Angeles.
“I went on to Montreal to work with Cirque du Soleil as a house troupe member, and then I started to create my own acts. I like the marriage of the two disciplines – dance and athletics.”
Lord has travelled the world, performed at the Grammy Awards, MTV Video Music Awards, numerous corporate events, and with music artists such as Gwen Stefani, Will Smith and Anastacia. But with Cirque de la Symphonie there is a difference – she flies over an orchestra.
“Some of the conductors are very interactive, smile at us, or pretend to duck out of the way. It makes it a more personable experience when they are involved. We never know how the orchestra is going to play the music, so in rehearsal we all adjust organically, and make everything happen – seamlessly.”
Lord and Christmas Cirque Spectacular will perform an aerial rope act to the Skater’s Waltz and with Alexander (Sasha) Fedorchev, a gravity-defying aerial duo act flying through the air, suspended with flowing silks while below the Vancouver Island Symphony plays the Waltz of the Flowers from the Nutcracker.
It’s all familiar music that will have feet tapping and hearts throbbing with Christmas glow. While the orchestra plays segments from the Nutcracker, The Snow Maiden, and Swan Lake, and familiar pieces like Tarantella, Little Bolero Boy, Sleigh Ride and Capriccio Espagnol the audience is whisked away to a world of enchantment where there’s magic, electric juggling balls, a giant wheel over the stage, hula hoops, spinning frames, more aerialists and cirque delights. The VI Symphony takes the spotlight with the Polar Express Suite, Deck the Halls, and suites from Farandole and Troika.
Tickets $42-$84 and available through the Port Theatre at 250-754-8550 or www.porttheatre.com. For more information, please visit www.vancouverislandsymphony.com.