Monday Nov 01, 2021
Monday Nov 01, 2021
Monday Nov 01, 2021
In today's episode, I welcome Kelsey Aicher! Kelsey is a trapeze artist and coach, as well as the Artistic Director of Aerheart and the Training Company Program Director for Kansas City Aerial Arts. She shares her experience with mental health issues and why she's so passionate about opening conversations about it. She shares with us her heart behind her latest show "n0rmal" (premiering in Kansas City and on livestream soon!) and some of her exciting future plans. (Fun fact: the cover image for this episode is part of the show image for "n0rmal"!)
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Episode 75 - Kelsey Aicher
[00:00:00] Lindsey Dinneen: Hello, and welcome to Artfully Told, where we share true stories about meaningful encounters with art.
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[00:02:11] Hello and welcome back to another episode of Artfully Told. I'm your host Lindsey and I am very excited to have as my guest today, Kelsey Aicher. She is a trapeze artist and coach. She is the Artistic Director of Aerheart and also the training director for Kansas City Aerial Arts for their training company. She's the director for that. And I am just absolutely thrilled that she is joining us here today. Thanks so much for being here, Kelsey.
[00:02:43] Kelsey Aicher: Thank you for having me.
[00:02:44] Lindsey Dinneen: Of course. Well, I would love if you wouldn't mind sharing just a little bit about your background, maybe how you got involved in art in general, and then specifically in aerial arts and let us know a little bit about what you're doing now to, if you don't mind.
[00:02:58] Kelsey Aicher: Yeah. So I have a very strange accidental journey to where I am right now. I've always been really good at math. And that's honestly what got me into art was, I was just, I skipped a grade in math and in third grade and was always advanced. And I was so bored in all of my math classes in high school because I just felt it was too easy. So I started writing short stories instead of paying attention in class. And that's when I fell in love with writing. I started taking creative writing classes, realized I love writing short stories and wondered if I could make a profit or like make a career out of it. So I started studying screenwriting by reading every book that I could. And when I was a junior in high school, I took a summer screenwriting camp at Drexel University and studied screenwriting intensely with the professors and fell in love, went to NYU at first and then switched to Columbia College to finish my Bachelor's in Screenwriting.
[00:04:01] And then my life pulled me into Portland. My ex-husband got a job there and I didn't know what to do. And so I was freelancing as a screenwriter doing commercial scripts. I started taking aerial classes to do something, to feel, to feel productive. It was just a hobby. And then a year later I started performing and coaching. And a year after that, I was hired professionally to perform trapeze and just somehow accidentally became a trapeze artist. I don't think that's most people's journey. And now moving to Kansas City, I moved here four years ago. I've been able to combine my love of writing and my aerial arts by writing circus stage shows for the training company, student company, and the professional company.
[00:04:54] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah. That's amazing. I love that you've been able to incorporate both of your passions into this one cool endeavor that you've been able to undertake. So that's, that's really interesting. So, like you said, sort of the accidental everything coming together, but it sounds like it, it came together pretty, pretty, perfectly, so that's, that's great. So you talked about, you know, starting with the background in, in writing. And so I'm curious how that transition has been, because you were talking about screenplays and whatnot. So, so how have you found that background to be obviously incredibly helpful as you plan out shows, but then also, how has it changed or evolved over the years just because it's necessary to do so with producing a, an aerial show versus let's say a movie?
[00:05:45] Kelsey Aicher: So starting at NYU for college, they have your freshman year, you have all the --all dramatic writing students are combined to a class. So it's playwrights, TV writers, and screenwriters. And the first semester, all we did was study plays. And then the second semester we started moving into TV and films. So I actually got a lot of training in playwriting as well as part of my education into screenwriting. When I write a show: one, I think just in general, any type of writer, whether it's short story, novels, whatever, there's still always standard structures of a story. They're generally three acts and character development, multiple plot points. So just understanding story, I think, helps with creating any type of show on stage. Even if it's silent, like ours are-- I shouldn't say silent, but free of dialogue, like ours are-- in a circus show. But having the playwriting understanding actually helps me more. I treat it like I'm writing a musical, so I still outline all my habits and stuff like that like I do for screen writing. I write like my treatment, my outlook.
[00:07:01] But then when I think about it, conceptually, I think of it like a musical, because a musical has this narrative story, but then the idea of having a musical number where you're just singing is so removed from reality that it's like a large moment that's just capturing one tiny little feeling. And that's kind of what I do with aerial is like, okay, we're having this story flowing through. And now we have this character locks eyes with this character. And instead of singing a song about it, we're going to have three aerialists on silks doing a whole dance that's showing how these two characters have just fallen in love at first sight.
[00:07:41] Lindsey Dinneen: Oh, I love that. Yeah. I can completely see that. It's so helpful to have that background of understanding the, the building blocks of creating a story in order to translate it to an art form that you really can't do as much with as far as-- well, you could, I suppose with dialogue-- but traditionally you don't. So yeah, I think that's, that's really neat. And I'm curious, has there been one show in particular that you've worked on, perhaps that has been the most difficult to translate from your concept in your head and like, "I know I want to get these messages across" to put it on, you know, an aerial production where they can, they can interact with each other? Yes, you can see those very human moments and these connections, but still to get across your main point, you know, what was, what has been one of the most challenging that you've experienced so far?
[00:08:36] Kelsey Aicher: I think the one that has not actually been released yet. I wrote a show for the training company, Kansas City Aerial Arts called "The Spaces Between," and it's very conceptual. I started writing it-- honestly, I think it was the first show I started to write. But it just didn't make sense to have them start with the students, start with like a really highly conceptual show. And so I put it on hold for several years and we finally were doing it to debut on April 3rd, 2020. So we spent six months building up for this show, getting everything ready. And the three weeks before the show, we shut down the whole studio. And so we actually just filmed it in this past April, April 2021, and it's still in the editing process, so I haven't seen it yet. So that's why I'm interested to see if it goes across.
[00:09:33] In the past I've written really, really narrative shows. We've did one about the story of Prometheus and the one that we did before "Spaces Between" was called "Masked: A Superhero Love Story." And it was very clear that here's our hero, here's our villain. And they fall in love and like everything that's happening. So generally I go very narrative where like one person is playing a character and it's the whole through line. With "The Spaces Between," there was a narrator that was just telling the story about growing up, dealing with parents' divorce and death of her sister and escaping, using her imagination to escape what was the stress of what was happening in her life and going to your imagination by thinking of like the worlds that are created in the space inside of bubble or the space between two pages of a book. So it's interesting to make things really, really highly conceptual, where people are just like in normal clothes. And it's not really obvious. They're not heavy characters. Even if the narrator is talking about bubbles beforehand, will people be able to tell that these three lyra performers are supposed to be fairies come to life in this magical world between bubbles?
[00:10:46] So I, I think that that's the hardest one, but I also don't know yet the end results, since it hasn't been released yet. It's not fully edited. So I'm when we interested to see if the whole concept and idea that comes across. I hope it does, but I know that that's definitely-- it's a lot harder to convey a concept, especially when we're doing everything very conceptual anyway. Like falling in love is easier to do with dialogue than with aerial, but at least we can create a lot of set up with the right music and costuming and movement to convey it, than trying to convey something like-- I'm trying to think of an example. Oh, there's one where it is-- they're portraying the space between notes in music and on trapeze. And whether that's going to come across or not, I don't know.
[00:11:45] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah. Yeah. You know, on some level I think every time I write and produce a show is, you know, I, I have some level of confidence having been able to produce shows that I'm proud of in the past, but there's always that, you know, when you produce something new, is it, is it going to read, is it going to come across to your audience or did you just create this cool thing in your head that everyone's like, "oh yeah, that was interesting," but they don't quite get. So I can certainly relate to that. But I'm excited for that, that show. That sounds really interesting and unique. And I think, I think that will be a really cool concept to watch. Well, a series of concepts to, to watch in a, in an aerial show specifically. Well, I know that you're currently working on a show that is coming up pretty quickly here, just a few weeks away. And I would love if you wouldn't mind sharing that. I know it's a very, you know, personal thing for you. And I don't want to give anything away ahead of time. I want you to speak to it, but I would love if you would share just a little bit about maybe your next upcoming production that is finally live again. So exciting.
[00:12:56] Kelsey Aicher: I am very excited to be back to live theater. It is, I don't enjoy filming things that were meant for stage, despite my screenwriting background. Yeah. So I am making, I've directed the student company before. This is my first time directing our professional company, Aerheart. It is also my first time directing a show that I'm performing in since I'm in Aerheart, but the show is called "n0rmal." Doesn't sound so exciting, but I want to spell this out. We're spelling it lowercase n, the number zero, r m a l. I put the zero in because I wanted to show that like no one is free from mental health or no one is untouched by mental health topics. Like everyone is affected. We're not alone. So I put the zero in there, one, to make the spelling a little bit quirkier, but to, to show that like we're all in this together, no one is exempt from dealing with mental illness or mental health issues. And that's the subject of the show we are talking about trying to normalize talking about mental health and suicide prevention.
[00:14:07] Yes, you mentioned that it is a more of a personal story or personal project for me. One, in the pandemic, I saw a lot of my friends have more mental health issues. And for me, I went deeper into my depression, which I've been dealing with since I was 14. And more on a very personal level, I had an addiction to self-harm, to cutting specifically when I was in high school, and I struggled a lot with it. I was hospitalized in college for self harm and I have struggled on and off, but I've been pretty good in my adult years. And during the pandemic with everything being as hard as it was and depressing that it was, I picked up the habit again and it was a struggle and it was a thing that I didn't like. And so I resumed therapy and got back out of the, I stopped it before it became an addiction or a habit again. So I was already dealing with like, "okay, I'm having a tough time. And I know I'm not the only person having a tough time, but none of us are talking about it."
[00:15:17] And I'm coming from a place of privilege like that I get to create art all the time. I have been in therapy. I am willing to talk about my own struggles with anyone. But not everyone feels that safety because there are so many reasons to feel like talking about having depression or having suicidal thoughts is taboo. It's going to be a sign of weakness or people just don't understand. And people end up feeling isolated and alone for that reason because they feel like they're the only one feeling what they're feeling. So I wanted to create a show that was to say like, "Hey, you aren't alone." We all experienced this thing in different ways, but it's okay to talk about it and there is support out there. So that's kind of how "n0rmal" started.
[00:16:09] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah. Well, first of all, I just want to say, you know, for me personally, but just for, for the world, for people in general-- I, I'm so thankful that you are willing to, to address this and to address it in a way that brings people together and says you're not alone, that, that many of us struggle daily with various, you know, mental health concerns. And I think that, you know, I agree with you a lot of times we're led to feel like we're the only ones experiencing something, and that's just not true. And I've noticed for myself that the more honest and open I can be about my own struggles with, you know, with the appropriate people-- not, not everybody-- but with the appropriate people that there's this extremely supportive community in the feeling of, if I can be honest, that allows other people to be honest too. And then we can support each other, but if we don't know what's going on and we can't be honest, then we're stuck in this loop of, of feeling like we're alone because clearly nobody else is going through this. Everybody else has their lives together when that is so not true. So, yeah, I, so I really commend you for, for doing this, and I'm really curious to me, this sounds like one of those concepts that is extremely difficult to translate to an aerial show. So I'm curious how that process has gone for you. And are you sort of tackling different aspects of mental health per piece or is there like a very clear running narrative throughout the whole?
[00:17:55] Kelsey Aicher: It is more the former. So I have a description that has some statistics and my, my apologies if this number is wrong. If you come see the show, the correct information is on the program, but it's-- I have a two paragraph description, one paragraph for each act, and the first act talks about some statistics. Like the first piece is called-- and I'm going to get this number wrong, I'm so sorry-- 48,481, I think is the number, which is the number of lives lost to suicide in the year 2020 in the US. Wow. Which is a lot. And so I start with the first act being a lot of statistics and things like psychosis, depression, and substance use disorder are three of the highest risk factors for suicide. Things like being a member of a minority community, especially LGBTQ, or having experienced post-traumatic stress disorder, veterans. There are a lot of risk factors that show signs like that go into complete suicide. And so the first act kind of covers a lot of the different warning signs or common risk factors that can lead to suicide.
[00:19:28] And then in what I think is the hardest piece in the show, like not hardest physically, but the hardest piece to watch is an acro number where-- I'm in this piece, of course, my partner and I at the end commit suicide. And then the second act is more about like, okay, so we know that there are these problems that people are facing. There's these mental health issues. There are these risk factors. There are certain groups that are more at risk than others and it's really prevalent. So then the second act is about like, okay, so people might be drawn to suicide because they feel like they're a burden to other people or because they want their pain to end and we can support them. And what you're talking about with the, having the conversation to find out, like, by actually saying like what's going on and you end up finding that you're not alone and that there's a support system. The second to last piece-- which I'm also in-- apparently I'm in the hard pieces emotionally.
[00:20:29] It's called "Honest Conversation." And it's performed with my duo partner, Elena Sherman, and my real life best friend. And we are-- our piece is duo lyra, and we're having an honest conversation where in this piece we are through aerial saying like, "Hey, I have been feeling this way." And then all of a sudden hearing, "oh, I've been feeling this way too, and I love you." And we love each other and maybe we can like support each other. So having that honest conversation, just talking about it. So it's very conceptual because there isn't like a strong through line, but I did have these two paragraphs written in the program. And the title of each act is in bold and caps in the paragraph. So if you want to kind of follow along, so you're just like, "I don't even know what's going on right now," you have that safety backup to find out like what we're talking about with psychosis, hopefully like in the piece specifically about psychosis, where we have two people that are kind of like the same sometimes, and then moving further away from each other at other times, hopefully you can kind of get that sense of having -- not multiple personalities-- but having conflicting feelings and manic and depressive states that are sometimes together and sometimes battling each other. Hopefully in the piece about depression, you get the sense of just feeling defeated and depressed. But there is that option of go back and look at the paragraph and you can figure out what we're doing.
[00:22:00] Lindsey Dinneen: That's awesome. Yeah. And I know this show is coming up pretty quickly. So do you want to share the details of how we might be able to watch it, whether we're local to Kansas City or not?
[00:22:12] Kelsey Aicher: If you are local to Kansas City, we are going to be performing this show live at City Stage at Union Station on November 18th, 19th, 20th, and 21st. You can buy tickets at kansascityaerialarts.com. There'll be a link to our EventBrite page. If you are not local to Kansas City, and you want to check out the show, we are going to do a live stream on the Friday, November 19th show, and you can buy tickets through our same EventBrite page there. And if you do the live stream, you'll be able to not only watch it live on Friday, but you'll have access to watch it at another time after that, that weekend. So I know some of my students that are coming to see the show in person that have family members that are in different states are also gifting a live stream to their family members so that everyone they want to share it with can see this show.
[00:23:06] Lindsey Dinneen: Oh, that's a perfect option. Thank you for sharing all about it and the process and all of that. And I'm wondering how it's been for you personally, and you can go into as little or as much detail as you want, but this is obviously-- like, we've kind of touched on something near and dear to your heart. And I, I, I know from my own personal experience that sometimes taking something that is really, really difficult, and frankly, even just difficult to talk about regardless of your comfort level of it, it's just still hard. I'm, I'm curious how that's been for you to translate that for yourself as a performer and then watching your creation come to life. How has that process been for you? I mean, I can only imagine that you are, you're needing to do a lot of self care on the side to really you know, not go down a rabbit hole of, of, of you know, reliving some of those harder moments, but, but, but still able to portray it. Do you mind speaking to that?
[00:24:11] Kelsey Aicher: Yeah, of course. Yeah, I feel like I've been sharing my story more in the last few weeks than I ever have in my life, but I have, I've decided about five years ago that I was going to stop worrying about covering up my scars and not worry about telling people that I have depression, like not trying to hide it. I grew up in a Catholic small town, rural Wisconsin, conservative family. And when the school counselor told my parents that like I had talked about suicide ideation and that I should seek counseling, my parents were really upset that I would need extra help. My mom would drive me to and from therapy in silence and she would always like give me a doctors' note, like that I had a doctor's appointment. Like she would not let the school know that it was for counseling. I was told that I was not allowed to tell anyone, like none of my friends. So I went through my teenage years, dealing with an addiction to cutting, dealing with depression, dealing with starting meds for major depression and anxiety.
[00:25:24] And my parents wouldn't talk to me about it. And I couldn't talk to any of my friends. And so I grew up being like, everything that I'm dealing with is something to be ashamed about. And even when I was hospitalized in college, it was only because some one saw --a neighbor in the dorms. I started like bleeding through my shirt and I didn't realize I was bleeding through my shirt from all of my wounds that I had self-inflicted, and they're the ones that took me to the hospital. And then coming back from that break, my parents and I really didn't talk about it. So it's just been like this whole, like life of like, you're supposed to be ashamed of having depression. You're supposed to hide it. You're not supposed to talk about it because like it's improper and it reflects poorly on your family and everyone else around you.
[00:26:09] And in Portland, I had a coach who was wearing tank tops all the time and I could see her scars. And I asked her about at one time, like really like hesitantly about like, "Why do you feel comfortable showing your scars?" And she's like, "I get hot easily. I don't want to wear sleeves when I'm training." And it was just like this whole idea of like, "oh, this isn't a big deal." And so I made it a goal for myself that once a week, from them that point on, I was going to wear either shorts or short sleeves or something that revealed at least a scar once, once a week. And it wasn't necessarily around people I knew, or to like my aerial classrooms, and that it would be like to the grocery store, but I was just going to like gradually become okay with like having my scars exposed because I would like literally wear long sleeves and pants. And I like cover absolutely everything.
[00:27:02] And so when I started getting comfortable with like my body and people seeing this, and I started like realizing. There's this other person that has this thing. And then we start talking these other people and they have depression. I was like, "oh, I'm not alone." And "Hey, I can start talking about these things." And I've found for me that the best thing for my own mental health and my own control of my problems with self harm has been being honest in talking about it. So I think for me, because I have been now for like, six, seven years been very open. Like if anyone asks me about something that's going on or my past experience, I will tell them. I will be honest. And it's just been something that's been so helpful for me. So I think along this journey, working on this show, even though it is so personal to me and personal to all the performers, I've already-- I don't want to say made my peace but it's the best phrase that's coming to my head right now-- made my peace with that that I don't feel super vulnerable to it.
[00:28:00] That said, I am reading something on stage that I wrote. And I have found that when I listened to myself say these words, I have a really tough time. That's when I get triggered. So I have to, there's a piece where I'm reading something I wrote while a contortionist is performing to my words on stage. And anytime she sends me her videos to show me like, "oh, this is what I'm working on," I have to turn the sound off because if I hear myself saying these words, these about having anxiety and feeling stressed out, I get like, I have a physical reaction. So I have found that like, that's my one like trigger in this show, everything else I've been okay with. I've seen a lot of the performers, so many of the performers, if not every performer in this show has started putting their own emotions, their own feelings and their own experiences into this show as well. And so I've seen it more, I've seen more reactions from the other cast members seeing like how their real feelings are getting into the pieces and sometimes disrupting it.
[00:29:09] And so I've talked to some of the newer performers. And the way that I keep my, the way I picture it is, you want to be you adjacent. So I think like, there's this character and then there's yourself and you want to have them next to each other so that they're just touching enough that you can pass the emotions and the feelings of your own experiences into your character, but you don't want them to be overlapping and you don't want them to be the same. Because if you are now becoming your reality into this piece, it's going to be so hard as a performer. It's going to be too easy to break down and to not actually separate yourself from the art that you're working on. So I talked to someone else about this and they just decided that they described it as a mask work, where you don't want your mask to be so tight fitting that it's yourself. You want to have a little bit of space between you and your mask that you're presenting. I think of it as being adjacent. Either way, it's this idea that you need to put all of your feelings and your experiences and your person next to your character that you're being. So pull on your experiences of self-harm and depression in this piece about depression, but don't make it actually your real experiences. If that makes sense.
[00:30:25] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah, and that's great advice. And I wish I had heard that advice a few years ago. I performed a piece where my character was the subject of some pretty intense bullying and, you know, a lot of gossip swirling around the character and the character had to deal with it. And, and it was very difficult to, to be adjacent to that character, having experienced some, some similar kinds of-- not the same obviously things-- but similar things to have those feelings brought back up, right? And so, yeah, that is such a good piece of advice. Yes, draw on your own experience to be able to portray it, to be able to share with the audience, "this is how this feels to me," but not so much that you get to a point of reliving the difficult, like-- I mean, trauma is a strong word-- but you know, things are traumatic, so don't relive the trauma exactly. But yeah, but, but be willing to sit with the feeling. And stay a little bit separate. I like, I like the way that, that you talked about that. Yeah. That's really important.
[00:31:33] Kelsey Aicher: And you don't want to completely remove yourself from it because then your performance is inauthentic. Like you still want to give an honest portrayal, but that's why I always think of it, like as adjacent, like touching but not overlapping.
[00:31:46] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah. That's, that's fantastic. And I'm sorry to hear that you didn't have that support system growing up. I think there-- there's still is-- but there were for many, many years just so much stigma surrounding any sort of mental health difficulty. And I'm so thankful that you have a great support system now, from the sounds of it. And again, we, we are all touched by it. I love what your concept of that is, is nobody has been untouched in some way, whether it's you yourself or, or somebody that you love deeply or whatever. It's, it's there. And so being able to have those honest conversations and draw on the support of others and professionals. And I'm a huge advocate for therapy. I, I think therapy is for absolutely everyone.
[00:32:30] Kelsey Aicher: Yes. I think that is something that everyone should experience at least once in their life. Like we go to the dentist twice a year to make sure that our teeth are still okay. We go to the doctor to make sure that everything's okay. Why don't we do this same thing for our emotional and mental wellbeing? Like everyone should be just at least once in their life should get that like tune-up. We do it for our cars. We do it for everything. But we should do it for our brain as well.
[00:32:54] Lindsey Dinneen: Yes. Amen. Fully on board with that. Yes. So I'm sure that you're a pretty wrapped up in, you know, everything that is "n0rmal" right now, but then what is on the horizon for you? Where do you see yourself heading to next?
[00:33:12] Kelsey Aicher: Well, always more things. I'm sure you already know that our training company is doing this production in December with VidaDance, called "Cracked!" So I'm simultaneously working on training and getting everything together and directing "n0rmal" while also doing some choreography and coaching for the training company for "Cracked!" And the training company at KCAA is already starting to work on our spring show which is a pop goth, gender neutral fairytale retelling, called "The Glass Combat Boot." So I'm already doing auditions for that and choreography and getting everything lined up. That will be in May, again at City Stage. And then, because I'm always thinking so far ahead, I'm getting the concept ready for their Fringe show and I'm already working on Aerheart's show for next year, next fall. So I'm constantly, I always like to stay one year ahead when it comes to writing the show that we're going to do.
[00:34:17] So I kind of have a system of "alright, idea for next year's show needs to be done at least one year in advance. I need to have an outline at least 10 months in advance. I need to start auditions and choreography" by the time that we have started by the time we're in production of the previous show. So I'm going year-round constantly thinking of like what the next project is. It helps that I always like to create, so I get excited about things and the people I work with, both in Aerheart and in the training company, they're so inspiring. And so sometimes they'll just say something or do something and I see an image and that sparks a whole entire show.
[00:35:02] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah, absolutely. Well, and I have the privilege of actually knowing you in real life, not just, you know, over the, the podcast. And so, yeah, you are one of the most organized people I've ever met, which obviously you have to be, considering you always have like 15,000 things on your plate, so kudos to you.
[00:35:21] Kelsey Aicher: I don't usually feel that way so thank you for the compliment.
[00:35:24] Lindsey Dinneen: Well, yeah, and I understand that the not feeling that way, but clearly, you know, you are very. So good, good for you, but yeah, that, that is awesome. And for those who haven't had the chance to experience Kansas City Aerial Arts yet-- first of all, I just have to say the company, the professional company Aerheart, and then of course the training company, but the students in general are just amazing people first and they're amazing performers second, but they are just-- you have to watch, you have to watch their shows, frankly. Just shameless plug, but like, it just, you have to do it because they're, they're so good. And one of the things that I enjoy so much about watching them perform is how much they enjoy performing together. It's just obvious.
[00:36:11] Kelsey Aicher: Yes. Yes. 100%. This is the most supportive community I have ever known. Like, I am constantly baffled by them. We hold auditions and it's almost like people get more excited to find out that they didn't get a solo because they're excited that someone else got the solo. It's, it is so crazy how much they all support each other and love each other. And like you said, it just shows on stage.
[00:36:38] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah. It's, it's magical. It's a really special atmosphere that you all have obviously carefully curated and support, but it is awesome the kind of people that you draw in and the way that they interact with each other. It's, it's always a blessing when we get to interact with y'all, but just in general, it's so much fun to watch you. And I would highly also encourage that if anybody is local to Kansas City and has any interest in aerial art, definitely that's the way to go. Like I said, they're extremely supportive people. Even if you've literally never done anything aerial before, they're not going to make you feel goofy or anything. I mean, I did an intro lesson one time and I was so like, I, you know, don't have the upper body strength or anything, and everyone was just so supportive and sweet and you know, that's the way to go. Well Kelsey, you know, thank you so much in general for, for being honest and open with, with us and specifically with the show. I'm really excited that you're doing this and I commend the work. I think it's extremely important that you're doing it. So thank you so much for that. I do have a couple sort of generic questions that I like to ask my guests if you're comfortable with that.
[00:37:50] Kelsey Aicher: Yeah, of course.
[00:37:51] Lindsey Dinneen: Awesome. Well, first of all, what is one change that you would really like to see in the art world? It could be really anything-- could be a very serious sort of change that you feel like needs to be made or something fun. Just what's one thing you would like to see changed about the art world?
[00:38:10] Kelsey Aicher: One thing that I really struggle with is I don't feel that artists receive the same respect as someone that works like a standard nine to five. Like we're constantly asked to work for experience or do work for free promotion, but you wouldn't ask an architect to build a design your building for free, just for exposure. And I think that artists frequently thought of as, "oh, you're just doing it because you love it. And so you should just do it for the love and you don't have to worry about getting paid or getting paid equally." And I don't know, I feel like it's kind of like, you know, people that are computer programmers, they don't just write code because they want to make money. They do it also because they enjoy it, and artists do their work because they enjoy it. But why are we expected to just enjoy it and not seek compensation? So I do wish that there was a little bit more respect financially for artists.
[00:39:12] Lindsey Dinneen: Yes, yes. And amen. Yep, absolutely agree. And then is there something arts related that you still want to explore that you haven't yet? So maybe another form of art that has it kind of, you know, prodded you here and there that, "oh, try me!" But you haven't had the opportunity or, or haven't gone for it yet?
[00:39:38] Kelsey Aicher: Hmm. That is a really good question. I tend to be a person who-- I don't want to say impulsive, I'm impulsive light. So if there's something that interests me, I usually go for it and I dive in to it. So most things I feel like I have tried. I do still have the goal and it's not new. I, I love writing and I still write regularly. I still have the goal of writing a novel someday. But I'm trying to think of other art forms that I haven't dabbled in that I had just like really would like to try. I can tell you that one of my favorite art forms to watch is, I love watching dance. I love watching all types of dance and I just get mesmerized by it. And when there's an aerialist and a dancer on stage at the same time, the audience is almost always watching the aerialist because that's the thing that they haven't seen so much. And for me, I'm always watching the dancers cause I'm like, "But, but the dancer!" But I, I have tried dancing. I'm not great at dancing. I really respect everything that you guys do. Because I, I'm not a great mover on the ground by any means.
[00:40:43] Lindsey Dinneen: But maybe something to further explore someday if you feel like it!
[00:40:46] Kelsey Aicher: Possibly. Yeah. I mean, things in the circus arts, I know I want to get better at hand balancing and I've even considered-- it's just like, not professionally-- but like, I'm like when I retire from aerial, I think I might try to get a little bit more into contortion. You know, cause someone just gets into contortion for fun. But yeah, I think that my art, I just like to, I like being creative. I like, I like to move my body a lot, so I think it'd be something along those lines or even in the martial arts, I know. Not everyone considers that to be an art, but there certainly is a movement and an art form to things like Tai Chi or TaeKwonDo. So I think maybe the martial arts would be something I would try out.
[00:41:30] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah, absolutely. Great. And then my final question is-- so at the end of your life, what is one arts related experience that you would want to experience one last time for the last time?
[00:41:45] Kelsey Aicher: Directing a show with aerialists. It's funny that I have fallen in love with it in the last few years, because I, when I was in film school, I really just wanted to be a writer. I had no ambition to be a director, almost everyone I was in classes with was like director, director, or writer, director. And I was like, no, I really do not want to direct. And the last four years with Kansas City Aerial Arts and working with the student company in particular, like being able to see us, all that team effort put in heart and soul from choreographers and performers and coaches and make a vision come to life. And it's not just like this vision that I have, like, I love seeing their reaction. Like "Masked" was my favorite show that we've done so far on stage. And after "Masked," so many of the students came up to me were just like, "We can do this again, right? Like we should just like, get the, the theater again next week and just keep performing this show." And that joy and that excitement of "we did this together as a team, we got this concept, we were the best artists we could be and we executed a vision." It's just so incredible. And so I imagine that like at the end of my life, I just want to direct one more show with this community again.
[00:43:06] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah. I can understand that. Certainly relate to that. Yeah. Well, Kelsey, thank you so very much for being here today. I'm just so inspired by what you've been talking about and your courage in speaking out about things that are important, that matter to you, that matter to everyone. So thank you for doing that. And if, if people are interested in connecting with you specifically, is there a way for them to do?
[00:43:33] Kelsey Aicher: Yes. You can go to kansascityaerialarts.com and you'll be able to find my bio and my contact information. If you want to email me, it's email@example.com. I am not very good about social media, but I do have an Instagram account, which is mindfulaerhead. Airhead is A E R. So M I N D F U L A E R H E A D. So mindfulaerhead because I am really into mindfulness while being in the air. And yep. So you can follow me on Instagram there and message me that way as well. I will do my best to respond. I'm working this year on improving my social media presence, but it has been a thing that I have been removed from for several years.
[00:44:23] Lindsey Dinneen: Oh, I can relate to that. Well, thanks again so much for being here. I really appreciate it. And if you are feeling as inspired as I am after listening to this episode, I'd love if you'd share this with a friend or two, and we will catch you next time.
[00:44:41] If you have a story to share with us, we would love that so much. And I hope your day has been Artfully Told.
[00:44:51] Hi friends. I wanted to share with you another podcast that I think you're going to fall in love with just as I have. It's called Harlem with a View, and it is hosted by Harlem Lennox, who was a previous guest of mine on Artfully Told and a dear friend. Just because it looks easy doesn't mean it is. There is so much that goes into the work of your creative. She wants to know how the artists got into their line of work, what inspires them, but most importantly, what keeps them going? She'd asked them about how they make it through the blood, sweat, and tears. She wants to know what it's like to live this creative life: the good, the bad, the ugly, and even the magical. So she goes behind the scenes with creatives, from different genres and she explores their history, their take on life and talks about the business of art and the dedication of making art. She has a brilliant, brilliant platform. I think you will fall in love. I highly recommend that you search for Harlem with a View. Thanks!