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Moving across the sky, Julia Langenberg demonstrates the art of aerial dancing. The new Fredericksburg resident will perform a 4-minute aerial dance at the Fredericksburg Theater Company's Christmas at the Theater December 11 - 14, 2008.

Julia Langenberg will perform an aerial dance routine for the Fredericksburg Theater Company's Christmas at the Theater. Performances are December 11 - 14, 2008 at the Steve W. Shepherd Theater on Hwy 87 South of Fredericksburg. Ticket information at www.fredericksburgtheater.org.

Langenberg is also accepting students for all types of dance lessons. She can be reached at 512-924-3836 or julialangenberg@gmail.com. Clips of her performing can be viewed at these links:

Her website: www.julialangenberg.com

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phil@ fullhouseproductions.net.

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Dancing across the Sky

by Phil Houseal
Nov 25, 2008


Julia Langenberg has danced in some unusual places - such as hanging from bridges, on the scaffolding of unfinished buildings, and over the sides of skyscrapers. Langenberg is an aerial dancer, which is just like regular dancing, but done 150 feet in the air.

"I think it is an amazing art form to watch," she insisted. "I don't think it's scary, but my dad gets a little scared watching his little girl up there."

This little girl started normal dancing as soon as she could walk. She studied ballet, tap, jazz, trained with Ballet Austin, and even taught ballroom at an Arthur Murray dance studio. But a few years ago she joined the aerial dance company Blue Lapis Light in Austin. The non-profit dance company adds aerial techniques to classical dance movements to create poetic and dreamlike images at their performances. Dance takes flight.

"It is very freeing, floating through the air," the 24-year-old dancer agreed. "You actually feel like you are flying, especially when you add in lighting and smoke effects."

It is also physically demanding, sometimes deceptively so. Holding your body 20 feet in the air clutching ribbons for as long as eight minutes requires great upper body strength. Dancing in three dimensions also can be disorienting. Hanging upside down, many dancers confuse right from left, up from down.

There is an element of danger as well.

"Yeah, basically you are holding yourself up there, using nothing except for your own strength," said Langenberg, who practices close to the ground before going higher. "You have to be confident in yourself and be doing it correctly, or you shouldn't be doing it at all."

Most people have seen a form of the art at performances by Cirque du Soleil, but Langenberg notes a distinction between circus arts and aerial dance.

"I specialize in aerial dance," said the Austin native, who also has a degree in Vocal Performance and sings in the Austin Lyric Opera chorus. "For me this is more engaging to watch than circus art. A circus involves more tricks, one move after another, bam bam bam. Aerial dance has more fluidity and can be very graceful. We may be doing the same tricks as from a circus, but it is more artistic to watch."

Langenberg now lives in Fredericksburg. She is set to perform a four-minute aerial dance for Christmas at the Theater, based on a piece she did that evokes the vision of a live angel.

When on terra firma, she plans to teach all kinds of dance, including aerial. She insists you don't need to be light on your feet in order to leave your feet.

"I can teach anyone, no training required," she said. "And there are no set moves. If you come up with something yourself you can name it. We create our own vocabulary - we have 'the seaweed,' 'the bat hang,' and 'the Mary Poppins.'"

Hmmm. I think most of us will be content performing "the sedentary observer" and "the neck-craning seat jockey."