Ashland teen aerial dancers get L.A. booking with original 'Utopia'

Ten local teenage aerial dancers will perform a story they wrote, directed and costumed about the collapse and rebuilding of civilization at a prestigious performing arts school in Los Angeles this weekend.

The members of Le Cirque Centre's Elite Circus Company in Ashland will perform their dystopic drama of greed, titled "Utopia," at the Romon C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts before nearly 2,000 people.

"It's about our world so consumed by money and greed that it all collapses," says dancer Hannah Hackett, one of the authors. "People are distracted from the main joys in life. They want community and recreate it in positive ways."

At their practice space, the girls, ages 14 to 17, scramble up aerial silks and extension ladders, whip around in suspended steel hoops and dance like sprites, strewing fake money in celebration of the greed that's guiding their lives. Then everything explodes and they must reinvent themselves.

Their alluring and self-designed costumes feature one leg in leotard and the other wrapped in colorful ribbons.

The "circus freaks," as they call themselves, performed their act in Ashland a couple weeks ago and got standing ovations — and tears, says Le Cirque director and choreographer Lorenzo Santabarbara.

"It's about how the greed in our society is a distraction from realizing our own personal power and the power of people around us," he says.

The act is called "Utopia" after the main character, danced by Tiana Santabarbara, who saves society with a "creative mob of powerful people," he notes.

"It's so exciting for these girls," says mom Marta Getty. "They wrote, directed and did costumes. We're so thrilled and proud of their devotion. They're on fire about it."

Dancer and author Hannah Ring adds, "It's such a rush to dance like this — and we get to amp up the bad part of our world, the world we're living in now, with all the greed."

"It's kind of like flying," says Hackett. "It's the closest thing to it I can think of."

The girls were to fly to Los Angeles today, perform at the Cortines School Friday afternoon, then do an evening performance of their show "Totem."

On Saturday they take a workshop at Hollywood Aerial Arts, get a little play time at Santa Monica beach, then take in improv at Comedy Sportz in Hollywood. Before heading home Sunday, they'll attend a clown workshop and movement workshop and check out the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Grauman's Chinese Theatre, where stars of many decades have impressed their handprints.

John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. E-mail him at

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