When Natalie Roberts and Candice Levy aren’t performing jaw-dropping routines around the world, they’re teaching the magic of aerial dance at their Fourways studio … ‘where ordinary people do extraordinary things.’
Most people love the circus. It’s filled with thrills, feathers, magic, top hats and fantasy. It’s filled with singing, dancing, extravagant fashion, death-defying stunts, magical acts and aerial acrobatics where boundaries are pushed. It also requires tons of dedication and involves plenty of pain, sweat and tears.
Natalie Roberts was born with a love of dancing and has been working in the world of performing arts and circus companies for more than 20 years. Natalie’s performance career began when she joined Jazzart’s Professional Dance Company in Cape Town and she’s trained in contemporary, tap, rhythm and gumboot dancing. She was also one of the initial aerial artists for Madame Zingara’s Theatre of Dreams.
Natalie’s expertise has led her to perform internationally and to create a performance company called Art of Synergy. It was founded in 2015, with the vision of creating a platform to promote contemporary circus arts across Africa, to empower the human spirit and to break boundaries. Natalie runs the company with her new performance partner, Candice Levy.
Natalie and Candice’s strong hello-hugs at their new studio in Fourways speak volumes about their dedication. Their finely-tuned physiques are proof of a profession in fitness and performance.
Candice’s right arm is covered in animal body art with a leopard pattern as the focal point. ‘Leopards are my spirit animal – they’re fierce warriors and hunters and are also known for their quiet roaming and elusiveness. The sleeve tattoo started with the leopard print and from there the rest of the animal kingdom followed.’ She says her leopard tattoos symbolise agility and strength, much like aerial dancing. ‘I have an enormous passion for these graceful, reclusive, nocturnal big cats.’
Aerial performance is a combination of acrobatics and art, it’s like dancing in the air
Candice was a ballerina for 17 years before she took up pole dancing. ‘After I hung up my pointe shoes I decided to take up pole dancing and was hooked from the first spin!’ She says pole dancing is widely recognised as a highly beneficial form of physical and mental exercise, just like aerial acrobatics. ‘Pole dancing is an intense full-body workout and I was obsessed with the stamina and sheer power needed. It requires total strength from head to toe, surpassing your own expectations – a similar element to the aerial performance I’ve come to love.’
Aerial training is also about growth, discipline, fitness and breaking through barriers. Rising to a challenge and going beyond your own expectations is the most empowering thing a person can do, says Natalie. ‘Aerial performance is a combination of acrobatics and art, it’s like dancing in the air.’
The duo first started performing in 2012 for Urban Circus – a fusion of nationalities and circus skills. ‘Circus life is dedication, along with plenty of pain, sweat and tears. But more than that, it’s a multicultural workplace where stories of hope get told through performance.’ They both say breathing helps with scary routines and they always talk to each other during an act. ‘But we trust our bodies and of course, we trust each other.’
When this talented duo is not performing jaw-dropping aerial acts like Silk, Lira and Cube around the world, they’re teaching the magic of aerial dance at their studio, ‘where fitness meets art and where ordinary people do extraordinary things’.
Candice and Natalie say the most important thing for a student to receive from an aerials class is the accomplishment of their own goals. ‘It’s hard work but you need to come back. That effortless look we all strive for takes time to cultivate and it’s always important to keep training and do classes. It’s an art that keeps on growing,’ says Natalie.
They offer various circus classes at which you’ll realise your fitness training will never be the same again. For more information about these circus classes and workshops visit their website.