By Megan Wehring
HAYS COUNTY — When 14-year-old Gaby Castro was introduced to aerial dance and acrobatics at the age of 12, the competitive dancing world as she knew it was about to change.
Gaby was dancing at a semi-professional level when she would have been one of the top-ranked dancers in Texas. But, she decided to be an aerialist instead just when “The Greatest Showman” was released in theaters.
“Then, 12 and 13 come along, and she’s like ‘Nope, I think I want to be an aerialist. I want to hang from the sky on just one foot and be in a circus,” said Gaby’s mother, Estella Castro.
With years of experience under her belt for being so young, Gaby said she enjoys aerial more than regular dancing.
“I started dancing when I was two and that got into competitive dancing, which somehow turned into aerial,” Gaby said. “For my 12th birthday, I got a rig and I started training on that. For my 13th birthday, we went to Vegas and started meeting all of these circus people and training. I just like it a lot, way more than I like dancing.”
Gaby’s daily schedule as an aerialist includes breakfast, morning homeschool, handstands and other classes. She said one of her favorite parts is embracing new challenges along the way.
“Learning new tricks and learning new acts,” Gaby said. “It’s really fun. I also really like flying around.”
Similar to competitive dancing, Castro said aerial requires its own traveling.
“She’s been competitively dancing since she was in diapers,” Castro said. “We took her out of school for dance and then it ended up being a crazy world wind of traveling all over Texas to find an aerial place. She probably maxed out in training, by training herself, in less than six months. She trained off of YouTube.”
Castro said that all of Gaby’s coaches are stationed in Las Vegas, since it was difficult trying to find an aerial coach in Texas.
“Texas doesn’t have any kind of program as far as young artists like this,” Castro said. “You can find somebody trying to do this recreational as trying to lose weight or strengthening at like 20 or 30 years old. Now, to find somebody trying to do this already self-taught doing stuff at 12 going into 13, it was crazy.”
Gaby even has her own rig, installed about 16 feet in the air, in the backyard with different apparatuses including hoops and silks. She has been training over Zoom to stay safe during the pandemic.
Gaby is currently training for an upcoming talent competition. She is hoping to use the competition as a platform for Viva Fest, a Vegas international variety act festival, in fall 2021. Gaby was training for the 2020 festival for an entire year prior, until it was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Castro family spent thousands of dollars on travel, training and costumes for an act that was never showcased. But, coach Dima Deyneko still shared it on social media for the world to see.