GLOW returns to the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History

October 9, 2013

GlowFire1GLOW: A Festival of Fire and Light is returning to the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History this month for a third year, this time complete with a performance of aerial arts. The festival was first launched in 2011 and brought hundreds of people to the MAH and adjoining Abbott Square for two nights of fire dancers, digital artists, music and much more.

It  returns Oct. 18 and 19 with fire sculpture workshops, black light rooms, the Hoopalights, the Dancetronauts and many more, including the aforementioned aerial arts.

Allie Cooper has been doing aerial arts for a number of years and will be part of GLOW this year as a participatory performing artist-in-residence. Her work combines dance and acrobatics, with an emphasis on fluencies and transitions, she says.

She first met Nina Simon of MAH at last year’s TEDx Santa Cruz event and that was her introduction to the museum’s artist in residency program. Cooper was very interested.

The challenge with this project, Cooper says, was that the museum really wanted something that would be a participatory performance. For obvious reasons, aerial arts don’t exactly lend themselves to audience participation. Performing complicated twists and turns on silk scarves suspended high in the air isn’t for the novice, to say the least. So Cooper collaborated with Logan Gritton to create ambient soundscapes, along with the interactive video installations of artist Drew Dettweiler, in a way that melds with Cooper’s performance.

Cooper says her performance will focus largely on movement and imagery, in a very organic and fluid kind of way. She will experiment with natural light and the concept of aurora, she says. She will be performing three times on Oct. 19 for about five minutes each time, but the rest of the installation will go on all night. Her aerial rig will be set up in the museum’s atrium.

“In this setting, it will very intimate,” she explains. “People will be very close – and they will have the opportunity to play with light and sounds, in a very interactive way that’s also largely improvisational.”

Along with her fellow artists, Cooper has been practicing for her Glow show since June, performing extensive technical trouble-shooting, among other considerations.

Cooper has performed all over the U.S. and Europe, at festivals and studios. She also teaches all over. She first got hooked on aerial arts after seeing Cirque du Soleil. Aerial arts appealed to her sense of athleticism as well as her sense of aestheticism, and she loved the idea that practicing aerial arts was a way to combine both.

Getting to her current position as a full-time aerial artist didn’t happen overnight, though. First Cooper earned a degree in political science from Santa Clara University before later running a cupcake business in Santa Cruz. Nowadays, she spends her days hanging from ropes and silks, performing a sort of vertical dance. Definitely not the career trajectory one might expect, but in a way, it seems almost quintessentially Santa Cruz.

Amazingly, she has never fallen, she says, despite having performed at hundreds of feet in the air, suspended over a rock climbing site in Spain. The trick to avoid getting freaked out, she says, is to “just remind yourself that being that high up is really no different than being ten feet up in the air.”

Clearly Cooper does not share my fear of heights.

Check out her performance on Saturday, Oct. 19.

There’s plenty of other great-sounding events planned as part of the GLOW festival too, including an appearance on the Friday night by fire artist Lucy Hosking’s flaming dragon and a plethora of artists, DJs and VJs from around the region. There will also be a full slate of daytime workshops on the 19th for those who want to “learn how to make things glow.”

The official festival of fire takes place Friday, Oct. 18 from 7 to 10 p.m. and will include showcasing of various Burning Man creations, amongst other glowing delights. Admission is $10 for the general public and $5 for MAH members. Workshops will be held from noon to 4 p.m. on the 19th, with specifics to be released soon, and the Festival of Light – which includes Cooper’s performance — takes place from 7 to 10 p.m. on the 19th. Admission to this event is also $10 for the general public and $5 for MAH members.


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3 Responses to GLOW returns to the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History

  1. sally price
    October 1, 2015 at 9:21 am


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