In partnership with Internationally acclaimed aerial artist John Quigley of Spectral Q, Dancing Without Borders has been co-producing Human Aerial Arts to build community and inspire creativity on four continents.

Human Aerial Art

A message from John Quigley, our co-creator, mentor, inspiration and friend 

We saw a need for communities to express their dreams and to address urgent issues. This unique mix of human installation, aerial photography, and political activism brings together communities to create large-scale messages for the common good. Focusing on themes of health, human rights, social justice, ecological balance, democracy, and freedom, the work strives to liberate the spirit and inspire unity and creative activation through participation.

We coined the phrase Aerial Art in the mid-nineties as a way to enroll all those involved to become Aerial Artists. Most people don’t consider themselves artists. Because this work involves thousands of people I saw the opportunity to not only send powerful messages but also to creatively activate the participants to see themselves in a new way. The participants are not extras on a film shoot. They are never paid to do this. They have to believe in the message enough to spend several hours of their time sitting, laying, kneeling, or standing in a giant form with their bodies most likely touching a stranger.

They become co-creators of a momentary human sculpture that is documented for the world to see then dispersed to the wind like a Tibetan Sand Mandala. The experience involves both precision and chaos and hopefully above all FUN. We get to play with each other while embodying a message to the world about what matters most to us. And we do it all through direct experience in the presence of each other rather than virtual electro reality. My mission has been to create a world of Aerial Artists by sparking participants to become creatively activated and to connect with each other.

We define Aerial Art as the creation of forms upon the land whose true identity is only revealed from an aerial perspective. Historically this dates back to the Nazca lines in Peru and ancient cities that oriented their structures along lines that formed a pattern if viewed from above. The modern inception of Human Aerial Art dates back to the early part of the twentieth century when photographers Mole and Thomas began traveling to military bases and creating massive installations of patriotic icons such as the Statue of Liberty, the Liberty Bell, Woodrow Wilson’s profile, the Marine Corps Seal and many others.

In the end this work is all about people, what they love, beauty, and our connection to nature. One of the things that I emphasize when I’m addressing the coordination team before an event is to recognize what a powerful and unique moment we’re about to experience…hundreds to thousands of people coming together in these giant forms because they care. I remind them of all the time, energy and resources that have been invested to make this heightened moment possible and encourage them to pour love into each person as they shape the image. We often are at the center of the chaos in those moments screaming like a madman at the top of my lungs “You’re beautiful! Do you know how truly beautiful you are? It’s amazing what happens when people join together, risk, and allow themselves to be seen.

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