As Claire Lindstrom was twirling while suspended in the air, children screamed with the spooky music playing in the background.
After all, Ms. Lindstrom was performing a daring feat, dancing while spinning in the sky, occasionally dropping down, only to be caught by the web of rope she designed.
Ms. Lindstrom and her fellow dancemates from Santa Barbara-based Airedanse were closing the show at Thrills & Chills, a Halloween dance fest put together by local nonprofit World Dance for Humanity on Saturday afternoon.
What helps Ms. Lindstrom while she’s about to perform the dramatic drops? Counting.
“What comes in handy is just counting to three and just letting go,” Ms. Lindstrom told the News-Press. “So I just go ‘One, two, three, OK’ and I let go.”
Both children and adults alike were hypnotized by Ms. Lindstrom’s drops.
“Drops are my favorite because it’s an adrenaline rush,” she said.
Her colleagues echoed her thoughts on aerial dance.
“It feels like I’m in the inside of an adrenaline tornado,” said Marisa Allan. “Your heart is just beating so fast up there, and you’re really trying to remember everything you’re doing even though you’re all jumbled up.”
The crowd’s hearts were beating with Ms. Allan’s, especially when she and her colleague Tegan Brennan performed a duo act that left watchers in awe. When there are two involved, communication seems to be key.
“A lot of making eye contact,” said Ms. Brennan. “You never exactly know what’s going to happen when you perform. There are so many things that are unpredictable.”
Of course, hanging upside down in the air does tend to keep one alert.
“The stuff that really breaks your brain is going upside down,” said Anna Bax, another dancer. “Your whole sense of your body … is inverted. (The teacher’s) like, ‘Move your left arm,’ and you’re like, ‘What is left? What does that even mean upside down?’”
The Airedanse troupe was not the only group shocking and spooking attendees of the dance fest.
A group performed Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” The performance began with more than 30 dancers lying on the ground. When the music began to play, they started to move as zombies.
Among the zombies were mother and daughter Roxanne and Risa Erskine, who danced side by side without a care in the world. The mother-daughter duo has been participating with World Dance for Humanity during the Halloween “Thriller” dance for about half a decade.
“It’s a mother-daughter tradition every Halloween,” said Ms. Erskine. To those thinking about joining the “Thriller” crowd next year, Mrs. Erskine had words of wisdom.
“Don’t worry about it. … Just get out there and have fun,” said Mrs. Erskine, and her daughter added that the fact that they are playing zombies facilitates the process.
“I’m supposed to be a zombie,” said Ms. Erskine. “I don’t have to be graceful. I don’t have to look beautiful. And it actually looks better when you aren’t.”
Providing the beats for the dancers of the dance fest was Elizabeth Stephens, who was playing the drums in the style of samba with her group. Ms. Stephens reflected on the event with the News-Press.
“It’s really open to everyone, and that’s what dance is all about,” said Ms. Stephens, who, when thinking about next year, added “I would like to see more men dancing out there.”
While there were more women than men among the dancers Saturday, there were folks from a wide range of ages. The youngest dancer, according to World Dance for Humanity’s founder and executive director Janet Reineck, was under 10 years old, while the oldest was more than 80.
All of the proceeds and donations go to World Dance for Humanity’s Rwanda Education Fund, the Westside Boys & Girls Club, and AHA’s Teen Empowerment Programs.
For more information, go to http://worlddanceforhumanity.org/.