Defying gravity: Nimble Arts hosts Vertical Dance in first-ever local appearance

BRATTLEBORO — Climbing the walls will have a different meaning Friday through Sunday, November 18–20, when Nimble Arts brings Vertical Dance to Brattleboro for the first time in a collaboration with the New England Center for Circus Arts (NECCA).

“We sort of change the rules of gravity,” Creative Director Serenity Smith Forchion said in a news release.

She said she learned the art form while teaching at aerial dance festivals in England and Ireland. “Using harnesses and rope tools from rock climbers and arborists, students can leap and fly without the impact of landing back on the earth. So this movement form is achievable by non-dancers and non-acrobats while expanding what acrobats and dancers can do.”

In the workshop, students are fitted with a harness or saddle that has safety-rated points built into the equipment. The student can then clip into a rope tied at their center of gravity and suspend inches to many feet above the floor. They are then free to explore acrobatic and dance movement in low-impact ways, working through a curriculum of shapes and choreography developed by Forchion.

“Cirque du Soleil's newest show promotional video actually features a clip of dancers on vertical walls,” says Forchion, who has been developing tree-based performances with this suspended acrobatic movement.

Forchion is an award-winning trapeze artist formerly with Cirque du Soleil, who is also a co-founder of NECCA. “We're quite excited to have NECCA support this workshop and give the region a chance to experience this movement art form that is appearing all over Europe - schools in Italy, Croatia, France, Ireland, and England - as well as starting to make inroads in the USA with companies, such as Bandaloop in California, doing performances suspended from bridges and rock faces in Yosemite.”

The workshop welcomes beginners age 16 and up or by permission of the instructor. To register, go to or call 802-254-9780, or visit

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