Aerial artist and FM Aerial & Movement Arts studio owner Yvette Reyes loves when things are up in the air.
Her technique as an aerial movement artist levitates emotions in both subtle and jaw-dropping ways. If you’re unfamiliar, the aerial arts includes artistic dance, and often dramatic interpretive movement, performed in the air.
Like a writer builds a story using pen and paper, Reyes uses aerial silks, trapezes, lyras (hoops), slings and rope to tell hers. Reyes is a first-generation Hispanic Latina who grew up in rural Minnesota and worked as a welder for several years before opening her studio. Her style is steeped partly in her personal story, but that doesn’t solely dictate her style as a performer or as a teacher.
“I think that the element of movement has the potential to convey a range of emotion so powerfully,” she said.
Reyes’ studio, FM Aerial Arts, offers classes for people of all ages and abilities. She also books live performances for private parties for all age ranges, gala events and corporate functions and even weddings.
Reyes is the recipient of a $2,500 Arts Partnership Individual Arts Partnership grant to fund a weeklong aerialist skills training intensive and the opportunity to network with aerialists from around the world.
Here’s more from Reyes about what drives her as a performance artist.
Q: Where are you from and how does that influence your work?
Reyes: I’ve moved around a few different places, but the longest place I’ve lived in as a child was Crookston, Minn.
Growing up, the people around you shape your work ethic and worldview. I lived in a strict household with very traditional values that as an adult I am now able to question and decide whether or not they fit the truest representation of who I am or want to surround myself with.
Q: What is your favorite artistic medium? Why?
Reyes: My favorite artistic medium is undoubtedly performance art.Additionally, the amount of control and awareness that one has to have in their body is also truly inspiring.
Q: Who or what are your biggest artistic influences?
Reyes: My artistic influences fluctuate depending which season of life I am in. Currently I find myself being inspired by the aerial teachers I have been able to learn from in this past year. It is exciting to see the similarities and differences in how people process and deliver information, and that is really inspiring to my work.
Q: What is your greatest fear/challenge when facing a new project?
Reyes: In the FM area there are not very many people who understand the entire scope of what an aerial artist has to think about when getting ready to perform. It is an art form that has the potential to be extremely dangerous to the artist, the audience, and the venue if proper guidelines are not followed.
My greatest fear is working with companies that do not take safety into consideration. Thankfully, aerial arts is becoming more known, and there are wonderful companies in the FM area that are knowledgeable and respectful of safety practices.
Q: What do you do when you get stuck?
Reyes: When I feel stuck I bring myself back to the basics and really try to hone in on the intricacies of fundamental skills and find ways to make them clear, concise, and interesting to me in new ways. Oftentimes, when I feel stuck it is also because my body and mind are asking for a break to reset.
Q: How does having a community of artists benefit your work?
Reyes: Having a creative community is beautiful in that there is so much potential to cross-pollinate. From sharing how we approach our work to commiserating with one another, having a support network of artists is important not only for inspiration but also for our mental health.
Q: What is the one question you have never been asked regarding your creative process?
Reyes: One question I’ve never been asked regarding my creative process is “What did it take to get started?”
Q: What was the most encouraging feedback you ever got? Did it change how you create?
Reyes: The most encouraging feedback that I ever received was when I was told that I do not have to take work simply because it is there. It changed how I create because it gave me the agency to choose what events I feel most align with my values.
Q: What would you be if you couldn’t be an artist?
Reyes: If I couldn’t be an artist, I would be a sad shell of myself. I would most likely go back to welding and cry under my hood like I had during the shutdown of 2020.
Q: What is your guilty artistic pleasure?
Reyes: I enjoy songs like “i’m fine” by Foushee and I can’t describe why I’m so drawn to it. In general I’m drawn to music that is emotional and angst in a varying shades of subtleness.
Q: What artistic feat are you most proud of having accomplished?
Reyes: To date, I am most proud of the Community Supported Art evening that we were a part of last year. It was an evening of aerial storytelling that I think the audience connected with on a deeper level.
Q: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
Reyes: I think that people would be surprised to know that I was a welder for over six years. I am a first generation American, and the first person like myself to own an aerial arts studio in North Dakota.
About the author
Lonna Whiting is an independent journalist and content strategy consultant based in Fargo. She covers a broad range of topics, including local arts, health care, senior living, startups, technology and education. Whiting also writes extensively about dementia and Alzheimer’s disease for journals and publications such as Being Patient, an award-winning global news forum for dementia researchers, physicians, patients and their care partners. Read more of Whiting’s work at lonna.co.