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Aerial fitness instructor finds her funny bone

Sherrie Martin finally found an outlet for her unique array of talents – physical comedy.

It’s the perfect way for a 55-year old woman to combine fife playing, handstands and baton twirling. Now if she could only figure out how to incorporate synchronized swimming.

Martin owns Spokane Aerial Performance Arts and happened upon her talent for comedy while in Ireland last year to learn how to rig aerial silks to the ceiling in her gym. While at the Irish Aerial Dance Festival in Letterkenny, County Donegal, Martin and her husband signed up for a comedy class on a whim.

After getting laughs for just doing a handstand – an easy move for a lifelong gymnast – Martin was hooked. It was an amazing and freeing feeling for a serious woman who’s strict and demanding – traits that come from coaching athletes and pushing her own fitness. Nobody has ever categorized her as “funny.” Yet she’s quick to point out Lucille Ball never thought of herself as funny either.

Now she’s creating comedy routines to perform at this year’s Irish Aerial Dance Festival. She’s working with a comedy coach based in Montreal – the home of Cirque du Soleil.

The Martins enjoyed the Irish festival so much they invited 14 students from their aerial silk classes to the festival.

Martin also hopes to perform her acts in Spokane.

In one shtick, Martin is a prissy baton twirler cart-wheeling and rolling to marching band music. She accidently throws the baton off stage. In a crunch, she goes through a gardener’s garbage can looking for something to twirl: a rack, a shovel, garden gloves, socks, a small stash of booze. Her body language and movements convey her disgust and frustration.

“It makes me so happy,” Martin said. “I just can’t stand it. The whole world just goes away.”

As an adult, she never thought she would be using her years of Saturday baton lessons and skills learned in the Spokane Percussionauts, a now-defunct drum and bugle corps comprised of area schools.

“I guess my weird skills are serving me well now,” Martin said.


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