• Bay Arealist

Twists & Turns

I am Katherine. I am an aerialist. I am an Oakland resident.

I have not always been known as Katherine. I have not always been an aerialist. I have not always been an Oakland resident.

My life has brought me here through carefully calculated decisions interlaced with life's inevitable twists and turns.

In 2008 I crashed my mother's car. It was my turn to drive. Just a few more hours and we would arrive at the final university on our audition tour. We stopped at a Denny's (of all places) in Virginia (of all places) and I ate a grilled cheese shrouded in anxiety and utter exhaustion. "Well" fed and in high spirits I buckled up and attempted to make a right hand turn out of the parking lot on to a 3 lane highway. Still within my first year of driving, this should have been a daunting task. Still within my sixteenth year, I was invincible. I made the turn mostly out of impatience and the van coming down the middle lane knocked my mother's driver side headlight right off. This was my first car accident and I was more of a wreck than both of the cars involved. The police didn't even try to talk to me. I was a blubbering, guilt-ridden mess.

Then the time came for a life altering decision.

My mom said, "How badly do you want to go to Towson University?" I shrugged, still quivering.

She elaborated, "It is illegal for us to drive a car with one headlight. We have an out-of-state license plate (making us a veritable target for Virginian police) and we have several hours ahead of us before we reach Maryland. If this audition is important to you, we'll go. If not, we can get a hotel for the night and drive home to NJ in the morning. What do you want to do?"

We drove the speed limit the whole way to Towson that night. The following morning I had the best audition experience of my life. At the end of the 3 hour adjudication, one other dancer and I were asked to stay for an interview. The Towson University Dance Department accepted me on the spot.

We didn't need the car to get home that night, I flew there.

That fall I became a college dancer. The following summer I had an anxiety attack. All I had ever wanted was to be a ballet dancer. Is there room in the professional ballet world for a 22 year old with an essentially meaningless degree, poor feet and less than astounding back flexibility? The answer I came up with sent me spiraling into a world of depression. If I couldn't be a ballet dancer, what in the world was I going to do?

Slowly, the answer revealed itself. In a conversation about rock climbing with a ballet professor, I discovered Bandaloop, a vertical dance company that uses rock climbing gear to rig themselves to the top of cliffs and sky scrapers. If you're having trouble visualizing this, check out their youtube channel. I was awestruck. I think I watched 2 hours worth of videos that night.

Then, as if by magic, Towson introduced an "Aerial Dance" class within the department. As it turns out, Jayne Bernasconi, our adjunct yoga professor, was also an aerialist. After 10 years of working with the Dance Department they finally succumbed and granted her 2 aerial classes just in time for my Sophomore year.

....and the rest is history

I suppose the moral of this story and the reason I felt the need to tell it is because;

1. I feel an immense amount of gratitude towards the workings of the universe. Sometimes we need to step back and remember that things are going the way they're supposed to.

2. Every decision is an opportunity. They are not to be squandered. We need to be attentive.

3. My mother (not a notorious breaker of any laws) broke a serious law for me that night. Had she put her foot down, who knows where I would have ended up.

4. I am exactly who I am supposed to be.

I am Katherine. I am an aerialist. I am an Oakland resident.

First Tissu Performance "L'abime Bleu"