As I approached the back door I saw two women, causally dressed, walking out the door. When they saw me, they asked if I was here to meet Dreya. I nodded, and they let me in. As the door shut I found myself in a dark place, and as I walked in, I heard several voices coming from different directions. The main lobby was empty except the theatrical masks hanging on the walls.
Shortly after, I saw a silhouette of a woman getting closer and closer; it was Andrea Marie Weber, her stage name – Dreya. We walked together towards the backstage room of Teatro Zinzanni, one of the central entertainment points of Seattle, where we sat down for an interview.
“My mother was an actress and a singer,” she began. From a young age, Weber was prompted to learn about the arts. Her first performance was when she was 5 years old. It was a religious opera, she recalled.
“I remember standing next to someone … this Baritone who was wearing furs and a lion cloth.” He kind of smelled, he was sweaty and “I think he smoked cigars.” He had a beautiful performance, she continued.
This was her introduction to the world of performing arts.
Weber decided she wanted to be part of this world at the age of 10.
Following her decision, Weber studied gymnastics, dance and performing arts. There was always music in her home, and her father was a professional baseball player, so she was always encouraged to do sports and be athletic. Her first professional stage performance was at age 17 in New York City.
Weber slowly started doing more shows and tours.
“When you sit on the bus for six or seven hours, your body gets cranky,” she said. She knew that restlessness well from her time traveling all around Canada and the U.S. on a tour bus.
Her roommate introduced Weber to yoga, specifically the sun salutations. She practiced and incorporated many of the yoga postures in her life, on and off the stage.
Later in her career, Weber worked with the Antigravity Company in New York, whose entertainment included performances combining gymnastic, dance and aerials.
“I knew I loved being in the air,” she said. Weber developed different techniques that she incorporated in many of her performances, but it was yoga that helped her with her restorative sessions in between.
“Some of my favorite yoga poses are the balance poses,” because of how they encourage the thoughtfulness “about your base.” She became more aware of where she was planted, Weber noted.
Her career path evolved, and she became an aerial choreographer whose work appeared in many headlines and shows, such as Pink’s headline tour, the 2010 and 2014 Grammy aerial performances and also choreographing for people such as Britney Spears, Cher, Katy Perry and Michael Jackson.
Speaking of her career, “it all intertwined,” she said.
Weber also produced and starred in a film called “The Gymnast,” which blends story with physical expression.
As a physical performer, Weber recognized and learned from a young age that “it is not worth [it] not to be in shape.”
Yoga provided her with the challenge to be still, to be calm and to be patient with her breath. She often times found the practice to be challenging, but very rewarding.
“Being steady in my body is a very different experience for me, from any other athletic discipline.”
Weber has found that you have to learn how to maintain a body that wants to perform on a high level consistently. Today, yoga, joint activation and physical therapy are the activities that help her, as she focuses on “waking-up” her body, instead of stressing it.
“We constantly have opportunities to learn about our bodies, through injury, knowledge or experiences,” Weber continued.
Yoga allows Weber to notice the way her feet are planted on the ground, pushing “everything upward.” Just like tree pose, “you feel [like] part of the earth,” she said.
She does a pose in her act very similar to “dancer’s pose,” but in the air. It is beautiful. She often does it on the ground just so she can balance her practice.
Her many experiences brought Weber to Teatro Zinzanni — “a very special and wonderful place,” — where for years she has been a lead member of the cast.
It is a place where creativity is welcomed and nourished, she said. A place where all of its elements blend and create a magical experience, including the food, which ironically, “brings so much to the table.”
“You can wear multiple hats, and you are invited to bring as much as you want,” she said. “There is [also] all that opportunity to interact with the audience one-on-one, non-scripted, but in character,” which she loves.
Teatro Zinzani performers bring the world of their own imagination and communicate it to their audiences. It is art; just like yoga – where both disciplines constantly encourage you.
As the interview came to its end, I had already felt a part of that place, full of magic and creativity. I didn’t want to leave, and just like Weber’s memories of her first time on stage, I will remember that day with all of its beauty and creativity.
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