High flying Laura rises to the occasion for Fright Night

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Laura Cork was one of 32 Mary Poppins that floated down to earth during the spectacular London Olympics opening ceremony.

She also took part in the closing ceremony for the Paralympic Games, performing on a pyrotechnic aerial hoop as a ‘firefly’ and riding a ‘flying stag’ to Coldplay’s duet with Rihanna.

But she will be on home ground - or rather above it - for Fright Night on Sunday as part of an aerial display in the Peace Gardens.

Laura, who lives in Heeley, has travelled around the world as an aerialist, yet has found time over the past ten years to join Sheffield’s Hallowe’en celebrations, as a stilt walker, acrobat, fire spinner or on roller skates.

Sunday will see her perform a Mexican-themed ‘Day of the Dead’ show with her performance company, Meddling Pixies, spinning from ropes and trapezes above the (turned off) fountains.

“It’s not the first time we’ve done shows in Sheffield, but it is the first time we’ve done an aerial show at Fright Night,” says Laura. “It’s exciting for us, and it’s great when your family and friends can come to watch.”

The 30-year-old Sheffielder trained as a gymnast when she was young before becoming a champion inline skater, which took her to countries as diverse as Beirut and Cape Town.

She took a BTEC GNVQ in art and design at Sheffield College, then an art foundation course, and polished her circus training skiils at Greentop Community Circus at Wincobank where she still trains.

“I always loved climbing trees as a kid,” she says. “Then I heard that they did beginners’ classes at Greentop. I did some classes and private training and I started to get work in different places.”

Her work with Meddling Pixies and her individual performances have taken her around the world - her favourite is a festival in Serbia - and she is rehearsing for Fright Night after returning from stilt walking in a shopping centre in Kuwait.

Her commitment to Sheffield is also evident from her helping to start a costume workshop and community training and performance space at Victoria Works at Kelham Island.

Next weekend she will be taking in an aerial show as part of Chatsworth’s fireworks celebrations and next year she aims to do circus training in Central America.

Thoughts for the moment, though, are on the Peace Gardens.

“It’s great seeing a project through from start to finish, starting with the concept and creating the characters and choosing the music. When you get to perform it, it’s such a buzz, and it’s great to see the crowd’s reaction, especially at Fright Night. It’s a really good atmosphere.”

Laura and her colleagues will fly seven metres above the ground on Sunday.

However, that’s nothing compared with hanging from a 20 metre crane.

“You get used to the heights,” she points out.