A-WOL Dance Collective
Jen Livengood’s unstoppable relationship with dance began at the age of ten. A foundation in ballet and jazz progressed into a more modern, contemporary style in high school and college, even while practical-minded parents pushed her to pursue a traditional career. While attaining a degree in Nutrition, Livengood’s heart kept dancing until she found aerial. The freedom of flight took hold for Jen, and she was instantly “obsessed with being in the air,” as she says. She found aerial dance to be an intoxicating way to get her endorphins flowing, defying gravity and doing what she loved…dancing!
Livengood’s enthusiasm for aerial dance, which is encompassed in the circus arts, is a socially available, inclusive form of dance that doesn’t discriminate. People who might not fit into other forms of dance can find acceptance and inspiration from aerial. The multidimensional experience of mathematical thinking and tying oneself up with ropes and silk fabrics, coupled with physical movement connected to music, can be a fulfilling experience for both mind and body.
The A-WOL Dance Collective was founded by Livengood in 2003 with the help of three fellow aerialists, and their success has been tremendous nearly 15 years later. The days of rehearsing in nightclubs and churches are gone; rigging from the rafters of unheated warehouses has been replaced by a permanent headquarters. What began as four artists has evolved into a multi-faceted organization with 15 professional A-WOL dancers, as well as a group of 12 pre-professional dancers known as FlyCo, 18 junior aerialists comprising Aeros and more than 120 youths and teens enrolled in 10-month lesson programs.
Livengood believes the success of the organization springs from the spirit of collaboration and ownership the company fosters in its members. The skill and beauty of the dancers is palpable, whether watching them effortlessly swinging in the air or mending a costume five minutes before going on stage.
Aerial empowers dancers to defy boundaries, to find and build their own strength while working alongside other passionate artists. The pride and joy of A-WOL is their annual outdoor Art In The Dark event that takes places every summer in West Linn’s Mary S. Young Park. More than 2500 people view this show annually, which begins at dusk as a fully illuminated aerial performance with sets fully rigged from the trees and live musical accompaniment.
Livengood’s devotion to the art of aerial dance is embodied in the A-WOL Dance Collective and all of its dancers. She has proven that the power of dance is truly limitless.
513 NE Schuyler St, Portland, OR 97212 | (503) 351-5182 | awoldance.org | Instagram: @AWOLDANCE | Facebook: @AWOLDANCE