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Trapeze artist-turned-aerial silk acrobat discovered
love of the circus, performing at CCRI
Nov. 14, 2014
Studying at CCRI has allowed students to go on to varied career paths, but none is quite so high-flying as Jamie Glowacki's. The alumna and lifelong theatrical circus performer will be among those celebrating the rededication of the Bobby Hackett Theater in "50 Years of Performing Arts at CCRI" at 7 p.m. on Nov. 21 at the Knight Campus in Warwick.
"CCRI was my springboard," she said.
Although Glowacki, a Providence native who has returned to the city, was unsure of what she wanted her life to look like when she enrolled in the college straight out of high school, it was in an oral communications class taught by Professor Bert Silverberg that she first found her calling.
"We had to do an oral presentation, and I was very animated. I remember him telling me, 'You should be in theater.' He suggested that I audition for a show and I did, and I loved it," she said.
That play would not only inspire her to pursue performance, but circus as well. For the original musical "Walking on Air," which was about a European circus, Glowacki had to learn how to juggle and walk on her hands. She eventually learned how to walk on the high wire.
Glowacki's varied career took her first across the country, where she studied musical theater under famed instructor Edward Sayegh in San Francisco, and later the world, touring in musical theater and circus productions. After she discovered she could sing on the trapeze – two talents that many can't lay claim to one at a time, much less simultaneously – she reached her spectacular mid-air stride.
"Between San Francisco and Montreal," she said of her time collaborating with many members of Cirque du Soleil, "there was this circus in the streets. There was a whole movement of expression through circus, and not the old-school Barnum and Bailey system. It was a rich, vibrant movement, and people were using circus to express everything, to tell a story through art."
Glowacki traveled the world as a solo performer, enchanting audiences as far flung as Brussels, Berlin and Beijing. But trapeze is brutal on the body, and she retired at 34 with the attendant arthritic hips and ripped up rotator cuffs. When she was 40, Glowacki made dietary changes that alleviated her arthritis pain and heard of a trainer who was practicing aerial silk performance at her Lincoln gymnastics studio.
"When I was in the circus, we made fun of silk girls," she admitted. "Compared to the trapeze, it looked like a wimpy apparatus. But I loved being back in the air and, because you're working on fabric, it's just much more forgiving on the body. But you still have to be a beast to be up there for any length of time," she said.
She excelled, quickly becoming a member of the company Arielle Arts, which is based in East Greenwich. "You climb up and wind yourself into two pieces of fabric that hang down. The appearance is that you're falling out constantly, but of course you're not. It's a beautiful, sensual apparatus that allows you to really express anything. The one I'll be performing at the theater event is kind of love story-ish. There are all kinds of tricks you can do to really craft a story," she said, of what audiences could expect at the Nov. 21 performance.
She has been performing with the troupe for three years in addition to authoring the potty training guide "Oh Crap. Potty Training" and homeschooling her son, Pascal. It's been an interesting ride for Glowacki: Not many people can claim to have a career where their life routinely hangs in the balance alongside their body while they're making their art. And just as all the grace and geometry of silk dancing are sure to wow the audience at the event, Glowacki herself said she's thrilled at the opportunity to perform at her alma mater.
"I love full circles in any capacity, and when I think back, it really all started with 'Walking on Air' at CCRI. That really determined my path, and so to be able to come back as a professional is magical. I was a professional performer my whole life and that all started with Bert Silverberg at CCRI," she said. "In this day and age, going to a community college is such a great steppingstone in life and in figuring out if college is for you. I didn't like high school, but when I got to CCRI, I felt that it was perfect for me."
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