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Aerial artist, 62, takes 2nd in group at Viva Fest in Henderson

Emergency trauma nurse Heidi Bean has a second love: aerial art.

Bean, 62, was the oldest aerial art performer at the third annual Vegas International Variety Act Festival, or Viva Fest, an event for circus professionals and amateurs to showcase their talents.

Viva Fest takes over a small part of Cornerstone Park in Henderson. Organizers set up a large tent for the performances, and food and beverage vendors set up outside.

There were over 300 acts that participated in the Viva Fest competition, some performances were group performances, others were singles. According to Cassie Rice, an organizer of Viva Fest, about 10 percent of competition performers were locals.

Bean, of El Paso, Texas, performed in the Tissue/Hoop Adult Novice category, for people who have been training in aerial arts for only a short time. In each category, performers are judged. In the Novice category, eight amateur aerial artists performed to a three-minute song, twisting and twirling on either long, silk sheets or a hoop. Among the other performance categories were Dance Trapeze, where performers use acrobatic tricks and dance choreography on a hanging trapeze, ground competition and a combination of tissue performances, on the silk sheets, hoop and trapeze.

A large, thick mat lay underneath the performers as they proceeded through their routines. Some performers chose popular songs that the large audience bounced their heads to, others chose more dramatic ballads that their performances reflected.

Performances in the Novice category all got cheers from friends, family, coaches and other aerial artists as their routines ended.

Before her performance, Bean said she was very confident and very excited.

“I hope I place very well; I practice a lot and work very hard,” Bean said.

Among the eight performers, Bean placed second in the Novice category. She chose the Novice category since she has been training in the aerial arts for less than two years.

Bean trains at the Academy of Aerial Fitness in El Paso. She and a few of her trainers flew to Las Vegas for Viva Fest before her performance April 18.

Less than two years ago, Bean walked into the Academy and was training immediately. She said the Academy of Aerial Fitness takes any age group.

Bean said she witnessed an aerial arts performance in Germany while visiting her mother a few years ago. After returning home to Texas, she immediately started searching for an aerial arts school to enroll in.

“All you have to do is try and you can do anything you want at any age,” Bean said when asked if she was intimidated going up against much younger performers. “The point is to go up there, have fun and point your toes.”

Cassie Rice, part of the steering committee for Viva Fest, said attendees participated in classes covering things like trapeze, beginner handstands and aerial silks. Henderson’s Gymcats Gymnastics, owned and coached by Rice, helped host the workshops.

Viva Fest also hosted professional circus performers from Russia, Ukraine, Japan, Australia and other countries at ProFest on April 19.

Contact Rachel Spacek at 702-387-2921 or rspacek@reviewjournal.com. Follow @RachelSpacek on Twitter.

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