Graceful young athletes defy gravity

Courtney Grieger, 12, front, twists the aerial silks during a performance.

Imagine hanging upside-down 20 feet or so above a concrete floor with nothing but a silk ribbon and the strength of your hands and legs separating you from a free fall.

Welcome to the word of silk acrobatics.

On Saturday, nearly a dozen girls, including 15-year-old Katie Johnson, demonstrated how strong and flexible a person must be to participate in the sport during the first Defy Gravity Children’s Circus held at the Defy Gravity Youth Center, 3198 C Road.

Actually, participating in silk acrobatics takes a couple other things, as well.

“Confidence. And you shouldn’t be afraid of heights,” Johnson said.

Saturday’s circus was the first of several shows local children have this month to demonstrate the skills learned through Defy Gravity. The performers are scheduled to appear July 14-15 at the Grand Valley Performing Arts Festival at Colorado Mesa University, as well as July 17 and again July 20-21 at the Mesa County Fair.

In addition to silk acrobatics, more than a dozen other youth with Defy Gravity will demonstrate equestrian vaulting, gymnastics, parkour and other aerial arts at the shows.

All their hard work to prepare for these shows was on display Saturday, which Johnson admitted made her nervous, but she and her teammates didn’t appear to show it, twisting and climbing up silk lines with strength and ease.

Courtney Grieger, 12, couldn’t do a pull-up when she started taking silk acrobatic classes last year but now is in the advanced class and can climb the silk line in seconds.

She isn’t perfect at all the skills, but she is learning.

“I love the excitement and adrenaline” from hanging 20 feet above the ground, she said.

Instilling confidence in youth is an important part of the work at Defy Gravity Youth Center, owner Kim Philia said before Saturday’s inaugural circus show.

“To me, to get kids involved in things, no matter their area of interest, makes good people,” she said.

For more information on Defy Gravity, including information about its upcoming shows, call Philia at 216-3043.


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