High-octane All Wheel Sports coming to Eccles Center on Dec. 7
Inline skaters, skateboarders, pro scooters and BMX stunts are the bones of All Wheel Sports that will be at the Eccles Center on Saturday, Dec. 7.
But the production isn’t like Nitro Circus or even the X Games, because there is so much more, said Jill Schulz, who co-founded the show with her husband, freestyle skier and mountain biker Aaron Transki.
"We’re doing a theatrical production on a stage," Schulz said during an interview with The Park Record. "All of the action that takes place has been carefully choreographed."
Not only is there an extreme-sport element in the show, but also trampolinists, aerialists and a cheer team that was recently seen on "America’s Got Talent."
"My background was in entertainment," Schulz said. "I did a variety of things and went from professional ice skating to acting and dancing in theater to working for Rollerblade, Inc.
"I love Broadway shows, modern dance companies and am what you would call a producer, director and choreographer," she said. "I work with a production team and want to make sure the show is fun for the whole family."
The production of All Wheel Sports actually began when Schulz was working with Rollerblade, the inline-skate company.
"I developed a marketing show for that company and choreographed a piece that featured skaters in Rollerblades," she said. "After that, I wanted to make what I had into a long-form show."
Schulz began expanding the concept and, following a suggestion from her father, added bikes and skateboards to the mix.
"The first opportunity we had to perform in front of a live audience was in 1995 at Knotts Berry Farm," she said. "They were willing to take a chance with it and it became their biggest show."
The first show featured athletes such as skateboard pro Tony Hawk and BMX rider Mat Hoffman, Schulz said.
Since then, All Wheel Sports has performed in at least four theme parks every summer.
"We’ve done Disney World, Universal Studios and Cedar Point," Schulz said. "But we’re not trying to compete with the X-Games or anything like that. We’re a theater show, not an outdoor show."
One of the challenges for Schulz and her crew is to make sure the performances fit onto a stage.
"It’s hard putting all the equipment, that includes ramps and trampolines, into a theater venue," Schulz said. "People ask us why we don’t do it outdoors, but we aren’t like that. We’re trying to create something the entire family can go to."
Appealing to the whole audience is important to Schulz.
"The kids who are into extreme sports will be happy because of that element," she said. "But we’ve also met grandparents who love the show as well.
"We have some dance elements and other things that will appeal to the 5-year-old girls, who will love the show as much as the 14-year-old boys."
Another difference is that All Wheel Sports is a collective production, unlike the X Games, which focuses on the individual.
"Our show focuses on the teamwork that is needed to pull off the tricks," Schulz said. "We are known to combine at least eight to 10 different types of stunts in one segment.
"But we don’t just hire different acts and get them to do their thing," she said. "We’re like a family, a team, and everyone starts to learn other skills in order to perform together."
People have asked Schulz if she just puts on music and lets the performers go.
"If we did that, you would see a gigantic crash," she said, laughing. "It would be like asking Alvin Ailey Dance Company to just go dance to some music without any choreography. So we make sure the show is choreographed and well-presented."
To do so, Schulz is constantly experimenting with new technology and studying athletes’ abilities to keep the show vital.
"We’ve added things to the show over the years," she said. "We added a halfpipe and street bikes and trampolines.
"I’m always doing research to find new talent and new concepts to see how we can put those things into our show," she said.
In addition to the visuals, All Wheel Sports features an audio soundtrack that will appeal to music lovers.
"All the music we use in the show is from the Top 20." Schulz said. "That’s another thing that helps attract all ages to the show. Even is someone doesn’t like the stunts, they will enjoy the music."
At the start of the show, the performers enter from the back of the auditorium and slap high fives with the audience.
"That way, they make an immediate connection with each other," Schulz said. "Then at the end of the show, the performers sit at the edge of the show so the audience can get photos and slap more high fives."
The Park City show means a lot to Schulz, because of some local connections.
Schulz’s husband, Aaron, is a good friend of Parkite and Olympic freestyle skier Trace Worthington. Worthington’s wife, Trisha, who is the executive director of The Park City Community Foundation, introduced Schulz to Teri Orr.
Orr is the executive director of the Park City Institute, the organization that is presenting All Wheel Sports in Park City.
"We went to some shows at the Eccles Center and I thought it was a beautiful venue," Schulz said. "I told Teri that I would love to get All Wheel Sports into the Eccles Center and, to my surprise, she said yes. I owe a big thanks to Teri."
The Park City Institute will present All Wheel Sports at the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts, 1750 Kearns Blvd., on Saturday, Dec. 7, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets start at $20 and are available at the Eccles Center, by calling 435-655-3114 or by visiting http://www.ecclescenter.org .
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