Terril Teran Mire was introduced to aerial arts while she was working in the wardrobe and wig department at Universal Studios. She watched a trapeze artist, fell in love with the art, and began her career as an aerial acrobat. Working with a group of stilt walkers, she began creating costumes and performing with them.
Her performance work with the group began as “atmosphere performance,” which Mire described as simple tricks performed as the audience arrived for the show. “Eventually I got better and they taught me harder tricks and choreography and put me in their shows.”
Since then, she has performed for brands such as Disney and Red Bull. Mire has owned and run her own circus company for six years now and specializes in custom costumes and themes for events, including corporate events, private parties, clubs, festivals, and weddings. “It’s just kind of been awesome and random. Whatever comes along, we make it happen.”
As if aerial acrobatics weren’t exciting enough, Mire’s career has taken her all over the world. She has performed in Japan, Austria, Switzerland, and Panama, among others. She specializes in walking stilts, and performing aerial acts, as well as gathering other talented performers together for shows.
There are numerous kinds of apparatuses used in aerial acts, some of the most popular being hoop, hammock, rope, and silks. Mire’s favorite is the hammock because of the interesting and complex forms she can make with it. “Aerial silk is also a big love of my life.” She said that everyone seems to enjoy them because of their beautiful shapes and flowing patterns.
Mire has been performing aerial for 15 years and costuming for 20 years. “It’s kind of awesome that I can make my own costumes and not have to spend a lot of money getting that done.” Two of the brands that she has done costume work for include wardrobe for Cirque du Soleil and wardrobe supervisor for American Girl Place theater.
The costumes that she creates serve a functional and visual purpose for her acts and performances, adding depth to them. For aerial acts, costumes protect the performers from getting burns from rubbing against silk or rope. “I do a Butterfly Metamorphosis act on the hammock. I look like a caterpillar so I can do my movements like usual in a unitard, and then I make a cocoon and I pull some hidden wings out of my costume and come out of the cocoon as a butterfly.”
Mire has also created many costumes for other events and shows. One of her most memorable designs was for a full length underwater circus themed show. Costumes were made to look like sea creatures, so that a costume would illuminate to look like an angler fish and a seahorse on a trapeze carousel.
Although aerial acrobatic dancers make it look easy, it is a difficult art form. “You have to train your act and keep your strength and flexibility up for the next job,” Mire said. One job could be walking on aerial stilts and the next could be an aerial hoop act. “I listen to my body when I’m stretching and make sure that I get to every body part.” Before getting on the aerial apparatus, she stretches, focusing on abdominal training and strengthening her shoulders. Then she performs floorial, which means she practices her aerial routine on the floor before doing it in the air. “It looks really funny if you don’t know what we’re doing,” she said.
As a teacher, performer, and costumer, Mire’s schedule is especially busy. Her day consists of work with the Bellingham Circus Guild, teaching lessons, working on her own acts, doing group rehearsals, and costuming.
“Once you get your body moving and learn how to do things while you’re upside-down or off the ground it’s really fun fitness.” Mire said. “I love teaching beginners because it’s just really fun to help them find themselves and their bodies.”
Helping her students find their body and understand how to move in new ways is one of Mire’s favorite parts of teaching aerial acrobatics. “Come and try it because it’s really fun, and it’s not as easy as it looks.”