Antigravity Soars to New Heights in Kissimmee
By Saundra Amrhein
The lights go dark and a triangular rig lowers, suspended over the stage by cables, holding brooms that sparkle. A song booms over the loudspeaker with a techno beat and a singer with a raspy voice whispering lyrics about “toil and trouble.”
Within minutes, Amy Smith, 15, and two fellow students, all dressed in purple-and-blue striped tights as witches, are atop the rig, which rises skyward, soaring through the air as the girls begin a series of graceful, mid-air acrobatic moves: upside-down splits; a suspension from the rig by their legs; and a dizzying spin while they grasp only the brooms with their hands.
For residents and tourists, AntiGravity offers every facet of the increasingly popular world of ethereal arts and aerial acrobats: classes on aerial yoga and aerial training with hammocks, silks, hoops, cubes and trampolines, as well as annual shows by its students and a growing number of professional shows by AntiGravity’s traveling troupe of performers.
Owner Daniel Stover originally signed a lease to use the building as a place for the professional troupe to rehearse. The tall, vaulted ceilings and cavernous space were perfect. He installed the massive, black stage, which opens up into a trampoline. He put in the rigs, cables and lights, sound system and cushioned theater chairs that seat about 200 people plus cabaret-style table seating in the back. He built a second-story studio for the yoga classes. With the improvements, the arrangement changed to lease-to-own. His wife, Heather Dodt, oversaw the development of the aerial and yoga classes.
Amy and her sister, Maya, 12, were among the first students. “A friend was taking silk classes and we thought, wow, that’s really cool,” Amy says before the show. Their father searched for a school near them in Kissimmee. After an initial class at AntiGravity, the sisters were hooked. “It kind of made me sleep better,” Maya says.
“Physically, I started to feel healthier,” Amy agrees, saying she grew stronger and found the workouts relieved her stress. Their parents set up a silk for them to use for practice in the front sitting room of their house.
The strength and skill needed were well on display during the rest of the student show. Maya, Amy and about a dozen fellow students took turns in elaborate aerial numbers – many they choreographed themselves – climbing upward on silks, deftly wrapping them around their bodies in mid-air to support ballet-like splits, backbends and suspensions, sometimes rolling out of them all the way to the ground, where they landed on their feet.
“It’s the best feeling,” says 16-year-old Ireland Cunningham, a fellow student. “It’s literally like flying,” Amy says. “I feel so hapy.”
If you go…
AntiGravity Orlando is located at 5390 W. Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway in Kissimmee near Orlando in Central Florida. For more information about class schedules and prices or theater performances, visit www.antigravityorlando.com or call (407) 507-3943.