Dancing in the air is an art form that takes a great deal of commitment and effort to do well, and for Kat Cooley it is a space that she has quickly become familiar with.
Ms Cooley is an Associate Artist with the aerial dance troupe Fidget Feet, founded 20 years ago by wife and husband Chantal McCormack and Jym Daly.
She said that aerial dancing has “set her free”, allowed her to explore other dimensions and feel like an excited child again.
“I never tire of flying, I feel like we are given this wee gift which is like when you are a child and you have that sense of exhilaration when you climb a tree you hang upside down.”
She joined the airborne dance troupe because of the excitement she felt from being lifted in the air.
Ms Cooley said that she never was a technically gifted dancer and always had issues with jumping when she went for ballet classes.
She has been a part of Fidget Feet for about 10 years and vividly recalls the time she came in for auditions.
“I came in for auditions and it went on for five days and it was just trying loads of little different things. I was finally in the air and I thought ‘wow’ this is great!”
Kat Cooley, at that moment, realised that there was no going back because Fidget Feet for her was the ability to stay in the air and stay flying.
She also initially had no idea what any of the dance apparatus was or how it was to be used.
“When we get to something new like the spirals, it goes back to how excited I felt when I first got on a trapeze because we don’t know what it does.”
She pointed out that it was not as simple as following steps and instructions to choreographed moves because the apparatus does not move in a specific way.
Dancing in the air is not nearly as limited as the untrained eye would think; Ms Cooley confirming that it is only the imagination which may limit it.
She even points out that the use of harnesses allows the airborne dancers to move about as freely as they want to.
“The line allows you to stay in the air for longer so you are able to do some things that you might not necessarily be able to do on the floor an vice versa.”
Kat Cooley is now at “trying to go back”, as she puts it, to approaching aerial dancing like a child would – to strip away all the “adult” notions like the fear of bruising or tripping.
She puts forward an idea – to enjoy the excitement and essence of the dance form and to not be bothered about whether she looks good while doing it or whether a particular move could hurt.
Kat Cooley did not get the part at Fidget Feet she originally auditioned for, but instead joined as an apprentice and began a 10-year journey to become the accomplished dancer she is now.