Meghan Schech Watson, 20, gets nervous walking on ledges or open grates. But as an aerialist for Firefly Theatre she displays nerves of steel climbing ropes and silks performing gravity-defying tricks 12 metres above the ground.
“When I started I had a fear of heights,” the St. Albert resident admits. “But when you’re on the ropes, you hold onto something.”
As one of the circus troupe’s fly girls, Watson teems with energy in Fly By Night – The Twelve Signs of the Zodiac, which has its final showing tonight at La CitÄ‚Â© francophone. Watson scales the ropes in an underwater themed piece, and spins and twists on the silks in a second green earth routine.
Orchestrated by Firefly Theatre’s artistic director Annie Dugan, Fly By Night is a dramatic mix of circus arts and street entertainment that include magic, dance, clowning and of course flying girls.
Known for her innovative, family friendly circus-vaudeville concepts, Dugan has thrown a new curve into the show — the 12 signs of the Zodiac.
Flamboyant clowns Molly Flood and Nadien Chu turn the tables on each other in a high-energy Scorpio-Cancer act. “They’re a little bit crazy. They’re being directed by Mike Kennard of Mump and Smoot, and they literally pull each other’s limbs apart,” Dugan says.
Gia Felicitas creates a bit of escape magic in her Aries-themed routine reminiscent of Houdini and David Blaine, both born under the sign of the Rams.
In an ode to seniors, Lynn Gosselin and Norman BoulÄ‚Â© have transformed the adventurous Sagittarius into an octogenarian performing a hand-balancing routine. “It’s going to be stunning.”
And local dancer Amber Borotsik revives Greek mythology in a dual Virgo-Libra act that recreates Ariadne’s (daughter of King Minos of Crete) attempt to rescue Theseus from the deadly labyrinth.
Under the flag of Taurus, Dugan has choreographed a visually spectacular silks-based green routine. She also is one of the four jaw-dropping performers that include Watson, Lisa Feehan and Kim Precht. “We took a poem, cut it up and interspersed it into the music and we’re illustrating the text with our bodies,” explains Dugan.
Adds Watson, “What I take away from this routine is that for the world to improve and be environmentally friendly, it needs everyone to do it together or it won’t happen.”
Watson also performs in Bottom Feeders and Basement Dwellers, a Pisces-centred underwater rope piece in a tale of two fish looking hungrily at a third one. Influenced by a National Geographic deep ocean show, the dancers even wear masks. “Mine is a Mohawk-styled headpiece,” Watson laughs.
She developed a passion for theatre’s dramatic spectacles early on, transferring to Victoria School of Performing Arts after attending Richard Fowler Junior High. She further honed her directorial skills with Musical Mania, a musical theatre troupe founded by St. Albert composer Cindy Oxley.
As a young child, Watson was perplexed after seeing Cirque du Soleil’s Quidam. “How did they do the tricks? What caught them when they did three flips?”
It was only when she saw a circus show at the University of Alberta celebrating International Students Week that she realized “real people did it.”
She signed up for a workshop at Firefly and was hooked to the point she spent four months down at the prestigious San Francisco Circus Centre refining her aerial skills. Upon Watson’s return, Firefly signed her up to teach beginner and intermediate circus arts.
A frequent performer at numerous circus events, she adds, “It’s a good show. There’s so much variety. And if you’ve never seen an aerial show, it’ll blow your mind.”
For more information visit www.fireflytheatre.com.
Fly By Night – The Twelve Signs
Feb. 20 at 8 p.m.
La CitÄ‚Â© Francophone
8627 – 91 St.
Tickets: $25 to $28/advance; $30/door
Call 780-420-1757 or go online to: www.tixonthesquare.ca