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Aerial Assault Founder Marguerite Endsley Interview

1 February 2019 No Comment

DWP_0639I was travelling through Denver recently and decided to catch a show. I ended up at a place called The Clocktower Cabaret where this dance performance group called Aerial Assault was doing their thing and I was blown away by their show it is truly outstanding. Aerial Assault is a definite must see! Here is the founder of Aerial Assault Marguerite Endsley.

You come from a very musical family. What was it like growing up in that environment, what instruments can you play and what are some of your favorite musical memories?

I was very lucky growing up in a musical family as it exposed me to multiple art forms. My mom was the principal flutist in the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, and my father was solo trumpeter/conductor/director of The Denver Municipal Band, which is the oldest professional concert band in the nation. And some of my best memories are going to the symphony and being backstage and watching how everything ran, and the Denver Municipal Band had the majority of their concerts in the parks which made it such a beautiful setting to be a part of. .

My parents told my brother and me at the age of 8, we had to play piano and could pick another instrument of our choice, and we had to pursue this until we graduated high school, and then we could decide if we wanted to continue or not after that. I picked the flute, like my mom, and my brother Shane, picked the trumpet liked my dad. I will say it was intense and interesting having my mom as my teacher, but I would not have had it any other way. And as an adult I eventually played in The Denver Municipal Band and occasionally with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, among other musical jobs. My brother continued on as a professional musician as well. .

I am so thankful for my parents Pamela Endsley and Gerald Endsley for exposing me to music and the arts, and I can’t stress how much it has impacted my life and dancing. At some point my body may not allow me to continue dancing due to age or injuries, but music I can do forever.

.How did you get started in dance?

When I was 14 years old, I saw the movie TAP with Gregory Hines and I was obsessed and immediately went to my parents and told them I needed to learn how to tap dance. And this began my journey with dance. Tap dance became my true love and my music training gave me an advantage to learning tap as I already understood rhythm. I attended the University of Denver for flute performance and during those years I grew an interest for hip hop dance, but it took me a while to get enough courage to start taking classes, but once I did, I quickly fell in love with this style as well. During these years, my passion for dance was outgrowing the passion for music, and dance became my priority.

How did the addition of the more extreme moves like aerials come about?

I moved to Los Angeles in 2004 to pursue my career in dance, got an agent, taught tap at a top studio in LA called Edge Performing Arts Center, as well as choreographed for a Comcast Cable National commercial. But I will say the competition was intense and I did not want it as bad as everyone else, so I only pushed so much out there. While I was in LA, I was at a strip club and saw a woman doing insane tricks on the pole, and it was the coolest thing I had ever seen and wished I could do tricks like that. That always stuck in my head, but had nagging thoughts of I would not be strong enough, etc.

I returned to Denver from LA in 2008 and I still had pole stuck in my head and found a studio that taught pole. There is a pole studio on every corner now, but back then, there were only a couple studios. I was obsessed and have not stopped since! Since training on pole I also transitioned to other aerial dance such as lyra, silks, trapeze, anything you can flip around on. Out of them all though, pole has been my favorite, which then led me to swinging pole, which has become my absolute favorite apparatus. Swinging pole is only attached at the ceiling so it can swing and spin around. And again, each art form I have trained in has helped me with the other. I don’t think I would have the ear or soul for what I do if I had not started with music.

At what point did you decide to open up your own dance studio?

DWP_0346I was also a dance instructor starting at the age of 19, so I always traveled to multiple studios every day and taught classes. When I returned form LA, I continued doing that, but was getting tired of all the driving back and forth, and had always dreamed of having my own dance studio. But having overhead and really being able to succeed at that is difficult. And I also did not want some traditional studio in a strip mall, I wanted something different. My Father had multiple businesses running out of the house, music publication business, made trumpets and mouthpieces and taught private trumpet lessons. And he always told me to avoid any extra payments or overhead if possible as it is such a waste of money going towards rent that you don’t ever see. And growing up seeing the creativity running your own business in a unique way always stayed with me.

I was teaching dance privates in my living room for a while, and my husband Mel, walked in one day and said “what if we had a tuff shed built out back and turned it into a dance studio?” And I said Yes that’s it! I went out that same day and looked at them and made a plan to have it built. And 8 years later, Denver Dance Studio is running strong. I teach hip hop, aerial dance, tap dance and fitness classes to adults and has become a supportive environment and a well known studio in the Denver community.

Your new show Aerial Assault just launched. Tell us all about it. What can people expect to see at an Aerial Assault show?

I was approached by The Clocktower Cabaret to produce an all aerial show. The Clocktower Cabaret is in the historic D & F Tower building In Denver, CO. I was excited to do this as there are so many amazing aerialists in Colorado and this would be a chance for them to be showcased in a great setting. Most people think about the circus and aerial as high flying, but at the Clocktower, with only 10 1/2 ceiling height to work with, we all get pretty creative and it shows the audience the capabilities that can be done with this sort of acrobatics in a unique space that they may have not seen before. Aerialists perform on apparatus ranging from trapeze, rope, swinging pole to invented apparatus. I also add in a couple variety acts such as hula hoop, juggling or a dance act to mix things up a little.

What types of music will you be playing and will any of it be performed live?

Each aerialist picks their own song, apparatus and choreography, which usually provides a nice variety from fast paced, slow, jazz to rock. I want this to be a place where they can show off what they want and have been working on. I do think in the future it would be great to build on the show and start doing some group numbers and occasional collaborative work such as bringing live music to the show, so each aerialist is dancing to a different song from the musicians. It is fun to explore all the possibilities to incorporate different art forms into one show and I think Aerial Assault may be able to play with this idea more.

What is the danger factor in aerial work? And what safety precautions do you take before a show or a class?

DWP_0188Aerial dance is dangerous as we are above the ground, upside down dangling on many different shaped objects. Not only can it be dangerous with human error by slipping, or missing your grip, we also have to worry about our aerial equipment not failing. All the equipment needs to be regularly looked over, replaced and made sure it is in working order. Also the higher up in the air, the more dangerous as well, but there have been injuries in the aerial world from only a few feet above the ground that have been devastating.

Before every show and a class that is taught, the equipment and rigging points are looked at to make sure things are in good shape. In my dance studio as well as the Clocktower Cabaret, an engineer has come in and designed a plan to make sure things are built and attached properly for aerial. It is a risk all of us take and I am big believer in staying confident with what we are doing, but also safe and cautious and never becoming too comfortable in the air.

How would you like to see Aerial Assault progress in the future? Any plans to take it on the road?

I would love Aerial Assault to always be a place for aerialists to showcase their work, and to keep finding new and creative ways to keep the show fresh and new. No plans to take it on the road, but that is what is great about life, you just never know!





All the photos are by Dave Wood Photography

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