9/25/2009 1:29:00 PM Bricker's talent goes worldwide on singer's tour Oblong native’s acrobatic act becomes part of Britney Spears’ ‘Circus.’
Nate Crawford and Jennifer Bricker do a two-minute acrobatic act on the trampoline every night of the 30-show tour. When it takes off to Australia in November, they hope to remain part of the cast. (Submitted photo)
While they didn't get airtime on NBC's "America's Got Talent," Oblong's legless acrobat Jennifer Bricker and her partner, Nate Crawford, still manage to find themselves performing in front of hundreds of thousands (and counting) of adoring fans.
From New York to California, and from Canada to possibly Australia, the duo can be found sharing a stage with the queen of pop herself, as they tag along on Britney Spears' world tour, titled "Circus."
For about two minutes, Bricker and Crawford perform their acrobat act on a trampoline in front of 20,000-plus people every night of the 30-show tour. When the tour takes off to Australia in November, Bricker and Crawford are hoping to tag along. "It's been exhausting," Bricker said.
"We're having a lot of fun," said Crawford, a Michigan native. "We're so grateful for the opportunity." Crawford has been linked up with the Spears tour since January and had been lobbying to get Bricker on board. Bricker said she visited Crawford often while he was on tour, so she already knew many of the performers. They showed a video of Bricker performing to tour management and she was eventually contracted for the beginning of the fall tour. "They basically trusted us," Crawford said.
During the show, Bricker and Crawford perform a high-flying solo on trampoline. Crawford also does a three-minute solo act with a cyr wheel, which he describes as a big steel Hula Hoop. Bricker hopes to add an aerial-silk routine to her performance before the tour is over. Aside from their solo acts, they do more stunts throughout the show.
"It's been going great," Bricker said. "There's been a huge response and a lot of press." Bricker even got some recognition in the MTV blogosphere, where a concert reviewer describes her as "a scene-stealing legless wonder who climbs out of her wheelchair and bounces super high on a trampoline" during the concert. The duo is also gaining a lot of attention on YouTube, some videos getting as many as 5,000 to 6,000 hits.
Internet fame is one thing, but, as Crawford says, "Nothing beats the rush of being on stage." The first show on the whirlwind tour was Aug. 20 in Hamilton, Ontario, and the tour heads to Australia Nov. 6 after the last North American show in Las Vegas Sept. 27. Both hope to travel to Australia for the last six shows on the final leg of the tour.
While touring with famous musicians on the road may sound glamorous, living on a bus takes some adjusting. "It's great. You have to find a balance between working out, eating right and sleeping," Bricker said. "We all out on this tour like this lifestyle. It's a great professional group to work with."
Their schedules are not surprisingly demanding. When they're not eating or sleeping, they're trying to squeeze in time to exercise - which isn't necessarily easy to do on a bus. They try to stick to a routine, if possible, like exercising when the buses stop off at hotels. Otherwise, they take to the trampoline before shows just to fit it all in.
When Jen and Nate finally got two days between shows to catch their breath in late August, they managed to squeeze in yet another huge performance venue - in Amsterdam. During a short break from the Spears tour, the two caught a flight from New York to the Netherlands to perform live at the prestigious CAP Awards ceremony, which recognizes outstanding achievements by those who have physical handicaps. The ceremony was broadcast on television in the Netherlands and Crawford said even Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende came out to show support for the event. After one swift international performance and a nine-hour flight home, Jen and Nate quickly shook off their jet-lag before taking the stage again with the Spears tour in Boston that night.
Both have especially enjoyed working with the elite slew of professionals in the live entertainment biz. "They get the best of the best. From technicians to sound guys, everything. They're all very talented, cooperative and there's lots of teamwork," Crawford said. Jen and Nate are working with about 30 circus performers, of which about 15 are aerialists or acrobats like them. The whole Britney Spears entourage consists of about 200 people, 30 semi-trucks and 16 12-person tour buses. "It's a very big production," Crawford said. "We've definitely been making some connections."
Bricker said now that she's experienced touring, it's something she wouldn't mind doing again in the future. "It's such great exposure and it opens so many jobs. I like it," she said. Even though Crawford and Bricker share a bus with nine other performers, Bricker said it doesn't get too crowded. In fact, she likes being on the bus, which has all the amenities of home, like a kitchen, beds and bathrooms. However comfortable it is, though, it doesn't quite feel like home.
"It's hard to settle down and find roots when you're moving," she said.
Touring may be exhausting, but it's worth it for Jen and Nate. "The best part," Bricker said, "is when I hit that final pose and everyone goes crazy." They've had lots of support from friends and family, who were able to watch Jen and Nate perform at the Orlando, Detroit and Chicago venues. About 30 friends and family members came out to support Bricker and Crawford in Chicago on Sept. 9, and Bricker got to see her parents and siblings. "It was just a big party afterward," she said.
Anyone can keep up with Jen and Nate while they're on the road by checking out their Facebook page, Jen and Nate, or going to their Web site, jenandnatesite.com. They've posted pictures and updates about where they've been and where they're heading on these pages. "We just want to thank everyone for their support. We wouldn't have gotten here by ourselves," Crawford said. "And we're still working hard."