December 6, 2017
Twinkling fairy lights emitted a warm glow throughout the open, lofty Aerial CLT building on a chilly Friday evening. Eager faces came in from the cold and readied themselves for A Night Of Fairytales: an aerial show styled to represent classic fairytales and an accompanying vegan dinner by Nourish.
The first course, a dual-dish titled Cinderella and Jack and the Beanstalk, was served as passed hors d’oeuvres. Cinderella: a pumpkin arancini with toasted pepita bread crumbs form into a mini-cake reminiscent of a lump crab cake. The cake was dressed in a sweet and tangy ‘midnight sauce’ which made these little bites almost irresistible. It was a good thing these were served one-by-one. Jack and the Beanstalk, was a pulled jackfruit BBQ mixed with undisclosed “magic beans” and topped with crisp pea shoots. Both of the dishes that comprised the first course were warm and filling and though they were served, nontraditionally, as hor d’oeuvres there were ample provisions and it was a satisfying start to the evening.
The space grew louder with sounds of merriment, as bellies were filled with alternating bites and sips. People snapped pictures at the photo booth, which was whimsically dressed with lights and golden streamers, and attendees grabbed final drinks from the bar. Lights began to dim and folks began to file in to their seats, which were arranged in a U-shape around the stage, in preparation for majority of the show.
The MC introduced the first performance and the second course, both titled Beauty and the Beast. Aerialists commanded the stage, dressed in costume, to perform a choreographed interpretation of the film. Snippets of the film played alongside the soundtrack as performers swung from silks overhead creating quite the spectacle. Beauty and the Beast, the dish, was promptly passed. On the plate was a hearty helping of French lentil and mushroom ragu (perhaps, the beast) atop a golden polenta cake (perchance, the beauty). To brighten and balance, there was shaved apple and fennel salad with arugula and rosewater. Baskets of exceptionally moist, nutty bread were placed on the table and served with a mushroom pâté. The meatless dish was incredibly hearty, exactly the kind of comforting food that warms and satisfies the soul in the darker and colder months.
As patrons dined, performers danced to productions inspired by various fairy tales like The Little Mermaid and Maleficent. Ladies climbed silks that ran what looked to be 20 feet from floor-to-ceiling with seemingly effortless ability and then descended with a series of flips and acrobatics. The aerial performance was such a captivating experience and an impressive display of athleticism.
For the grande finale, course three was a dessert and performance combination titled and inspired by The Wizard of Oz. The dish was a white chocolate ‘cheesecake’ topped with golden swirls of mango mousse- a nice pairing that was rich but balanced with acidity. It was served with technicolor berries and a crisp poppy and sesame seed brittle.
As the plates were cleared and the night concluded, performers came to the stage to receive a boisterous and well-deserved round of applause. The mood in the room was inspired as folks grabbed their jackets and scurried back into the night after what was a unique and unforgettable way to kick-off the holiday season.