At least twice in Cycropia Aerial Dance's first 10 years, the prospect of a 20th anniversary show was all but unimaginable. The first moment of doubt occurred in 1991, when one of the aerial dance company's founding members, Pamela Maye, was killed in a car crash. "That could have been the end right there," says 14-year Cycropia veteran Marcia Miquelon. But out of tragedy and grief emerged perseverance.
The second crisis came five years later, when demolition of the old Turner Hall left Cycropia homeless. A cascading series of hardships ensued, remembers Miquelon: By the late 1990s, the collective's core members had dwindled to a handful, and its creative energies were sapped. A meeting was convened and a question posed: Do we want to continue? "And the very clear answer," Miquelon says, "was, 'Yes.'"
A Life of Flight, Cycropia's 20th anniversary performance, echoes with that resounding affirmation. The celebratory showcase features choreographed and improvised works employing trapeze, bungees and other apparatuses that allow the company to take dance from the horizontal into the vertical realm.
Inspired by aerial dance pioneer Robert Davidson's 1988 performance on the UW-Madison campus, Cycropia has matured into an accomplished collective of 12 core members and about 40 active participants. It has performed around the region, and Cycropia's twilight shows have become a fixture at the Orton Park Festival.
Still without a permanent home, the collective has found sanctuary in recent years at the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County, which provides rehearsal space for Cycropia.
"Ever since Turner Hall came down, we've had a long-term goal of having another home," says Miquelon, 42. That new home may at last be in view. "A riggable dance space is built into the design plan for Garver Feed Mill," she says. "That could truly take us to the next level," she says.
For now, such ambitions remain distant enough to resemble dreams. The repurposing of the Garver property as an arts incubator is not yet a certainty. Closer at hand are the dreams Cycropia will conjure in its 20th anniversary performances, which include nine new works. In addition to its signature single-point trapeze, the company's dancers will collaborate with a range of custom and invented apparatuses, including steel hoops and a suspended horizontal steel ladder, so Cycropia's dreams can take flight.