The first time Ariel Bellvalaire shocked an audience was as a young girl. The Windsor native was a student at Summit Studios music school in Manchester, where she started taking vocal lessons at age 10. It was here that a rock band jam summer camp put a guitar in her hands for the first time. “My first experience on stage, I had to sing and play guitar in a band,” Bellvalaire says. “And then I started getting really into rock music, learning all these guitar solos. The first time we had a show live and I played these solos, the audience just freaked out that there was this little girl playing the solos.”
Now living in Los Angeles, Bellvalaire continues to surprise audiences, but these days, it’s not just by her guitar playing. She’s since combined her shredding with her other great passion: gymnastics. Calling it “shrednastics,” she plays the guitar while simultaneously performing gymnastic moves, including aerial maneuvers. Debuting the technique on ABC’s The Gong Show in 2018, she says this marriage of her twin passions came by accident. “When I was on stage, the audience would always go wild and whenever they went wild I would do something flashy like play a crazy riff and spin backwards a little bit and they would always just go crazy, so I was like, ‘All right, what can I do that’s even crazier?’ ” she says, adding that full splits and aerial work soon followed.
Both talents, plus her singing, are on display in Bellvalaire’s debut single, “Elastic,” which dropped earlier this year on her YouTube channel and other streaming platforms. Paying homage to her childhood inspiration, Avril Lavigne, as well as guitar masters like Randy Rhoads, Slash and Eddie Van Halen, the pop-rock tune about a rocky relationship is catchy with hard-hitting guitar riffs. The video intercuts snippets of Bellvalaire on stage in her typically flashy style with shots of her in an aerial ring and riding on the back of a motorcycle speeding across a desert while playing her guitar.
The guitar has been a constant in Bellvalaire’s life. “It’s been the one thing I have been drawn to that has never talked back to me, it’s never broken my heart … It’s just been my No. 1 love,” she says. “I feel like a lot of relationships have ended because they were either jealous of my guitar getting more attention than them or due to the fact that I’m getting gigs as a female guitarist.”
Bellvalaire says she has an album’s worth of original material that she plans to release as singles over time. “I am not one for sitting still; they call me the Energizer bunny with a guitar. I am all about the shock value and over-the-top tricks. It’s just fun for me finding new ways to incorporate gymnastics, nature and guitar — all of my loves.”