Aerialists get high above the casino floor

May 2, 2005 1:46 AM

Any pit boss will tell you working the gaming floor can be a "high-wire act," but try flying high — literally — twisting and turning above the green-felt tables in a pair of spangled tights.

Those stunts and more are performed by a team of airborne aerialist at the Tropicana. The aerial display, Air Play, is performed six times daily.

Chris Santistevan and Jon Harms make up the dynamic duo that display their talents in a segment called Aerial Expression.

Not to be outdone, a pair of femme fatales, Heather Sato and Holley Dawson, team up for "G-Force," a high-flying adagio performance.

In Aerial Expression, the two men hang from straps that are connected to a rail system controlled by a computer. The rail is attached to the Tropicana’s Tiffany glass ceiling, allowing the team to glide up and down the length of the casino floor.

In the process, Santistevan and Harms balance, perform acrobatics and demonstrate some incredible strength poses, all while dangling from the straps.

During one part of the show, Santistevan swings down from the ceiling to lift Harms from the stage with only one hand, and continues to fly down the length of the glass ceiling.

Prior to hooking up at the Tropicana, Santistevan and Harms appeared in several shows on the Las Vegas Strip, including Storm at Mandalay Bay, Notre Dame De Paris at Paris and Imagine at the Luxor. The two met seven years ago while working out in a gym, training for gymnastics.

Besides performing as an airborne acrobat, Santistevan has 25 years experience as a welder. He owns his own custom welding and fabrication company. His most recent work of art is displayed in the front entrance of the Charlie Palmer Steakhouse at the Four Seasons Hotel. In his spare time, he enjoys riding Harley Davidson motorcycles.

Harms has been involved in gymnastics for 11 years and was a member of the junior Olympics national team for three years. In 1993, he won the gold medal at the Nationals competition.

On the femme fatale side, Heather Sato and Holley Dawson perform as an amazing female flying adagio act that features fearless acrobatics and sexy choreography, all while suspended from straps.

In one stunt, Dawson puts her feet in the straps and does a full split while hanging upside down in mid-air. While in that position, Dawson sweeps Sato off the stage as she strikes different poses while rotating in full circle as they fly up and down the length of the glass ceiling.

Sato and Dawson are no strangers to the entertainment industry. Sato has an extensive dance background and has performed in EFX at the MGM Grand and entertained on the Star Princess Cruise Ship as part of a similar aerial act. Dawson has been dancing professionally for 10 years. She appeared in Storm at Mandalay Bay and was a Rockette in the Radio City Rockettes.