by JANET MANDELSTAM
When Dreya Weber brings her one-woman aerial performance to Bloomington in July, she will be returning to the place where her dream of flying was first realized.
“The human desire to fly is something we all recognize,” says Weber. “As a child I was always trying to be in the air—I climbed trees, I got up on the roof, I was a competitive gymnast.”
Then one day, she and her sister were riding their bicycles on High Street, and, Weber says, “I saw a flying trapeze in a backyard.”
Local circus performer Bernadette Pace had built the trapeze for the High Flyers Family Circus, and it was there that Weber would have her first taste of flight. “The first time I flew on that trapeze, I knew what I was after,” Weber recalls. “Being in the air.”
In addition to being a celebrated performer, Weber has woven her passion for aerials into the other strands of her varied career as an actress, filmmaker, choreographer, writer, and teacher. She has choreographed aerial performances for some of the biggest names in pop music, including Madonna, P!NK, Katy Perry, Michael Jackson, and Taylor Swift, as well as for Cher’s farewell tour.
Weber will perform her current show, Hexen, at The Hundredth Hill, the artist retreat established by Krista Detor and David Weber, Dreya’s brother. Hexen, a theatrical piece with aerials, has three characters: an old crone, an enchantress, and a contemporary woman. What connects them, Weber says, is “an ancestral exploration of witches.” Each character, she says, “has a transformative experience in the air.”
“Part of my show addresses the fear of women to say their age,” says Weber, 60. “They feel they’re going to be dismissed, diminished. I say my age loud and proud.”
Weber’s lengthy resume also includes producing and starring in the award- winning film The Gymnast, performing at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, and playing an aerialist in the film Water for Elephants. Her latest film is The Aerialist. Weber worked on Hexen during the past pandemic year at her home in Los Angeles, writing the script and practicing aerials on an apparatus in her backyard. Tickets for the three live, outdoor shows July 23–25 are available in-person or online at the BCT Box Office, bctboxoffice.com.