The Freestyle event to music at the Wind Games rocked the house and shook the world, with videos of the performances going viral. Just 36 hours after the event, over 28 million people had watched the video of Leo Volkov’s winning performance, a theatrical one-man production of amazing flying, extreme drama and extraordinary musicality. Maja’s video went crazy, with 20 million views on one Facebook page alone.
Let’s go back to the beginning
In 2013 Lise Hernandez (ex-ice figure skater and freestyler) had the idea to execute her routines with music where she and the audience can hear it at the same time. Convinced by the potential to include music in to the artistic disciplines her family supported her on the project:Indoor Sky Dancing which is the art of choreographed flight in to the music inside a vertical wind tunnel.
On March 2014, with 22 total hrs of training Lise presented the idea for the 1st time by competing at the 2nd Canadian Indoor Skydiving Championship (Skyventure Montreal) in the Neo-Freestyle category. She surprised judges, competitors and the spectators by hacking the sound system, playing her music inside and outside the tunnel while she performed. (Video and articlehere)
Continuing her faith on the potential of performing with music, she presented the idea to a higher level with the FAI competing at their 1st World Cup of Indoor Skydiving, in Austin TX (Freestyle). After this competition music is allowed and optional on the rules. No-one took up this opportunity at the first FAI World Championships in Prague – but I’m sure that will change for the next FAI event! (Indoor Skydiving World Cup, FlySpot, Poland, October 11-16, 2016, then World Championships, Skyventure Montreal 18-23 October 2017)
Lise’s big break for her baby came when she was contacted by Anne Maxwell, the Pro Flyer manager at Windoor, who had a vision of adding musical freestyle to the Wind Games. Anne, creator of the Wind Games is a visionary in her own right who’s not afraid to take risks. They worked together to make the dream happen. Lise brought the technical equipment, wrote the rules and set judging criteria, while Anne promoted the competition, set up the infrastructure and convinced the unbelievers! All the Windoor staff worked hard to make the competition a success. Having Windoor invest time, effort and tunnel time was invaluable – Lise said that her and Anne coming together was “like the Big Bang!”
Wind Games 2016’s Twist
Following Windoor’s love of innovation, the new addition for the 2016 Wind Games was to include Freestyle with a totally different format to anything that had gone before. The competition consisted of 3 unique rounds – a low speed, high speed and a musical round. Having the two different speed categories meant competitors could execute very different moves in the wind flow. The music round blew people’s minds and touched emotions in the audience.
Because the format of the competition is totally different, the judging criteria was different as well. There were 3 different judges; Adam Mattacola, freeflyer (and ex-rapper) with the technical knowledge, Dolo Yglesias, a dance performer/instructor brought the artistic expertise, and Lise Hernandez had a foot in both camps.
There were five performers, including all ages and genders, with an interesting balance of levels and unique styles. Flyers varied from beginner to super high level, which shows that you can compete in this discipline even without much experience.
Lukács Laki, from Hungary, 14 years old, with the least tunnel time experience. Lukács presented a nice varied routine and used every inch of the tunnel as he ran all over the walls like Spiderman. He finished fifth and is a talent to watch for in future. Indoor Sky Dancing
Russian Olga Bakulina, who was fourth, was an artiste – expressive with good flying skills. She performed very technical movements, and uses her hands and head to communicate something to the audience.
Canadian Guillaume Boileau, who took the bronze, flew with passion and energy, showing off many cool, original, flashy tricks. He varied the tunnel speed through his musical round and gets extra points in my book for performing to his own music – wow!
The silver medal went to 16-year old, Maja Kuszynska, from Poland. She had a beautiful, graceful gymnastic routine, she is stunning to watch, moving seamlessly through balletic type Ts, somersaults, twists and splits.
Leonid Volkov, the Russian Black Swan conquered the podium and world. A dramatic performer with such presence, you couldn’t look away; you felt he’d put a spell on you. His mesmerizing routine was perfectly choreographed to the theatrical music; we were swept away with the story as he flapped his ‘wings’ and ‘walked’ in mid-air. He threw in some super-difficult tumbling twisting moves, and rapid head-down spins, with a spectacular, tumbling, gymnastic finish. One of the most incredible things was that – owing to a technical hitch – Leo couldn’t actually hear the music! But knew the routine so perfectly he was in tune with every nuance, every beat change, every tempo, it was truly a superstar performance.
The non-believers now believe in the magic and potential of the Indoor Sky Dancing which is the art of choreographed flight in to the music inside a vertical wind tunnel. Windoor has been contacted by some of the major news networks around the world, including the USA and Asia who all went to include pieces and a video. Windoor is now developing a fixed installations with sound, so that flyers can come and train, plug into their system and debrief to music.
Thanks to the 3rd edition of the Wind Games, the future is clear now. For their next event (January 2017) they will include musical rounds for two people – but what will be the twist? Stay tuned on Windoor’s Facebook, this event is always moving forward; each time it’s bigger and better. Windoor is in the process of creating a production team that can co-ordinate an Indoor Skydancing event – rules, set-up, technical and on-site help, working alongside Lise. Contact Windoor if interested.
Indoor Sky Dancing will grow now as an organization with the goal to continue to develop this new performing art. Each of the flyers produced something truly special, and are fantastic ambassadors of our sport through the entrancing medium of music.
The videos of all performances are below, plus a half-hour ‘programme’ of the Musical Freestyle round, with commentary
More Wind Games videos here