It was a homecoming of sorts for Oria Dawn Atkinson at the Masque Costume Ball on Feb. 14.
Atkinson, an aerial artist who grew up in Golden and now lives on Saltspring Island, was one of the highlights of the Civic Centre show with her winter-to-spring themed performance.
Atkinson performed a variety of climbs, wraps, flips and drops during the performance, a skill she learned with Fly Dreams Aerial Arts Productions, an organization started by Victoria Mihalyi on Saltspring Island.
Atkinson was active in gymnastics as a kid so when she learned about the opportunity to learn to perform aerial art, she jumped at it.
“I was like ‘Oh yeah! Where is it?’,” Atkinson said. “There was no question (I was going to try it).”
Unsurprisingly, given the heights that are involved with being an aerial artist, the experience was a little unnerving for Atkinson at first.
“Everytime when I was learning and I’d learn a new drop, I would scream,” she laughed.
Now, Atkinson performs a handful of times per year as more of a hobby than a job. She has no desire to make it a full-time gig despite her love of performing.
“I love it when I can feel the audience, when we’re really communicating. When I have a good audience it feels like a conversation,” she said. “I kind of like keeping (aerial art) as where I play. As soon as you make it work, it changes it.”
Instead, Atkinson works full-time as a care aid worker for seniors, a job that she says is incredibly fulfilling.
“It’s such an amazing [experience.] I feel so honoured to work with them,” she said. “A lot of the older people are so cool, they have so much experience, they are so funny and they touch your heart.”
The opportunity to perform a show in Golden came up last fall, and it gave her a chance to both visit with her father (who still lives in town) and see some familiar faces.
“It was really fun to see everyone again,” Atkinson smiled.
For those who missed Atkinson’s performance, you can check out one of her videos on YouTube by typing “Oria Atkinson” into the search bar.