Just about a year ago, on some autumn Sunday afternoon, Micha Adams woke up with the urge to do something she'd never done before: learn how to rock the trapeze. It was the only thing she could talk about on the way to brunch at Royal Oak's Inn Season Café that day. And that's where she had a serendipitous run-in with stranger-turned-mentor Angelique Lele, a trapeze artist who works with the L.A.-based Cirque Berzerk troupe as well the Blue Phoenix Circus troupe of Minneapolis.
"Those sort of lucky, unexpected moments are actually really common in my life," smiles the fairy-punk yogi. She's the force behind the Detroit Fly House, the city's first aerial art troupe and dojo.
The Fly House is also a destination, a handsome loft space set to the back of the FD Lofts in Detroit's Eastern Market. It's a yoga studio unlike any other. Fluid, sturdy strips of pink fabric and trapeze hang bars from the ceiling, some 25 feet above.
Having taught yoga for the past six years, Adams sees aerial art performances as a natural extension of the Hindu discipline. The troupe's mid-air routines, which they've performed at seemingly every Detroit-area arts festival this summer as well as shows at MOCAD and other exhibition houses, are a balance of interpretive dance, yoga poses, and tasteful suggestions to the excitement brought about by the power and pleasure of restraints. It can get sexy. It often does, in fact.
Adams says she was kicked out of ballet at six for playing with worms on the stage during a recital. But she's a natural performer, as comfortable in her body as anyone who ever slipped into a spandex body suit then proceeded to do splits that'd make Jean-Claude Van Damme
If yoga centers a person on the inside, aerial art might be its extroverted counterpart. "It just made perfect sense that the next step would be to take yoga to the air," Adams says, also admitting that she's "usually drawn to anything where there's some healthy risk involved, where you're a bit uncomfortable. After all, that's where the best personal growth is from."
One of the Fly House's original members, Ania Brozda, says the sheer beauty of learning to do things, such as midair flips and barrel rolls, has taken her places, physically and mentality, she didn't think she could go.
Once Adams had learned what she could from Lele, she began to teach friends. Soon she was looking for a studio. She started with a space in Dearborn, which was temporary because she wanted the Fly House in Detroit, but was having a hard time finding the perfect spot.
"I'm a city girl and I want to be a part of the movement that's breathing new life into this beautiful city, a city that affords a lot of people the opportunity to do their own thing, no matter how weird it might sound," Adams says. "I saw every loft in Detroit and the one thing I learned is that men never tell the truth about size measurements. They'll tell you a ceiling's 20-feet high, then you get there and it's only six feet."
But when she saw the space at FD, there was nothing funny about the place. "You know, I had a feeling it was going to be everything that it turned out to be. I actually brought cash with me — handed it to them almost immediately."
Generally speaking, business and altruism mix like lies and love, but when Adams says she wants to use this space and the group's performances as "tools to help construct healing spaces for the performers, the audience and, ultimately, the whole city" it's hard not to believe her. She talks with certain earnestness, and her words are thoughtful. She believes what she says, and has a history of doing what she says. In one year, with minimal press, zero advertising, and working from one of Detroit's most discreet art spaces, Adams and the rest of the Fly House troupe have had little time to put into perspective all they've accomplished.
"That's just a Detroit for you," notes Mikael Addae, one of Adams' students and a recent addition to the performance troupe. "Detroiters love keeping secrets, and secrets about inconspicuous art spots in particular. I mean, we have to be proud of something. Knowing where those neat places hidden amongst all the desolation in this city are is a nice little tangible tidbit of cool."