Dreya Weber spends a good deal of her life hanging upside down. It's not exactly the life she envisioned for herself, but her inverted exploits have served her well over the years. Not only has she parlayed her aerial acrobatics into a highly successful and sought-after performance business, but she's also been able incorporate her Cirque du Soleil-style skills into a new feature film that she produced and stars in, The Gymnast, which took home awards for Best Feature at Outfest, Newfest and Frameline this summer.
In The Gymnast, Weber plays Jane, a former gymnast who was sidelined long ago by injury and is now stuck in a safe, pedestrian life with a husband she doesn't love. When Jane meets Serena (Addie Yungmee), an aerialist, her passion for life and gymnastics is reawakened by this woman who becomes her performance partner.
Over the course of the film, Jane and Serena develop not only a working relationship, but also a romantic one — a new experience for Jane. Despite the fact that many people told Weber that the film would probably reap more commercial success if Serena were a man, Weber says the story demanded that the two lead characters be women. “It was a reawakening of her body and her strength and her joy. It was all about her sensuality and her sexuality and her soul,” Weber says.
Playing gay is nothing new to Weber, who describes herself as “omnisexual.” In 1996, she had a role in Everything Relative, a quirky, indie flick in which she played a lesbian stunt woman. Weber, whose brother is gay and whose sister is bisexual, says that making a movie about gay women just seemed to make sense. The film was written and directed by Weber's husband, Ned Farr.
The Los Angeles-based Weber, who describes herself as being in her “extreme late twenties,” says her path to the aerial arts was circuitous and unforeseen. But as a girl growing up in Indiana, Weber spent much of her time climbing trees. She admits that she couldn't do the rope climb in gym class, but she could spend hours scaling trees in her back yard.
From ages 10 to 13, Weber took gymnastics classes, which set her foundation for her future career as an aerialist. After gymnastics, the teenaged Weber studied ballet and then moved on to track and field, where her coaches pushed her into the pentathlon, a rigorous, multi-discipline event.
Weber returned to gymnastics during her college years at Hunter College in New York, and it was there that she says she began to excel. Of course, working a floor routine or doing back flips on the balance beam is quite different from hanging upside down while flying on a trapeze high above the ground.
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