Aerial Arts

A Year of Aerial Arts

A close friend asked me if I had a blog today and when I said yes, but I hadn’t written a post for quite some time, she said I should be recording my forays into the world of aerial arts. And I agree! So here I go, ironically writing this post almost a year since my last one, which was about my first aerial class in Tampa.
Since taking my first class, which focused on silks (two pieces of fabric rigged from the ceiling), I have tried trapeze, lyra, rope, acro, and cloud swing. But I’ve gone full circle and am now focusing on silks, which in my opinion, is the most difficult of the aerial apparatuses. Trapeze and cloud swing are my favorite but a friend really wanted to try silks so I took a couple of classes with her in lieu of my weekly trapeze class, and in an effort to cajole her into continuing, signed us both up for The Keep’s spring showcase in May. One of the many things I love about The Keep is that even if you are beginner, you can perform in their yearly shows, as long as you commit to attending classes a couple of months prior to the show. Unfortunately, my friend decided she doesn’t have the time to participate, but now I am committed to the show and learning how to master the basics on silks which I have spent a year avoiding! But before going into the gory details of how that’s going, I want to share my experiences on the trapeze and cloud swing.
I LOVE cloud swing, a single rope suspended 12 feet above the ground, or higher, that you swing and do tricks on. I took a 6 week class series with 10 other women, that was very challenging and pushed me out of my comfort zone every week. We were harnessed in for safety, and to get on and off the swing, had to climb a silk or rope up to the level of the swing before transitioning on or off of it. The first week we focused on breathing while up there and the basic swing. It takes a surprising amount of arm strength to get the momentum up to really swing both on your knees and while standing. When standing, you almost want to be horizontal to the ground with your face towards it, while in the back you want your back to be almost horizontal with feet in front of you. Simply swinging on it is terrifying and exhilarating all at the same time. I felt like a child again at 39 years of age and it brought back memories of jumping off swings and having contests as a kid to see who could go the highest. 
Each week we learned a new trick including hanging upside down by our ankles, hanging in a T shaped position from the front of the swing, doing a forward roll, and the ultimate trick – the leap out. I have to admit, I completely froze when it came to doing the leap out; you basically are standing on the rope with it wrapped around your ankles and you dive forward out of it. I really thought I would do it but once I was up there I couldn’t get my body to leap forward! When I finally did it – it was more of a slow motion forward fold with no momentum and at the wrong time. But I was able to do a back dive which seemed much easier to me because you pretty much just let go and fall backwards without being able to see the ground. Needless to say, when our 6 week class was over, I was pretty sad but will definitely register for the next session offered. In the meantime. . .  preparing for my rapidly approaching silks performance. 
I also really enjoy trapeze and got to perform on the triple trap with two other lovely ladies at our winter showcase with a Game of Thrones theme! We represented the Ironborn of the Iron Islands, “What is Dead, May Never Die.” I had been going to an intro to trapeze class once a week pretty consistently and had a few basic moves down when signups for the showcase were posted but learning our short three minute routine was more difficult than I anticipated and required some extra classes to master. I’ve always considered myself fairly strong, I can do a few pull-ups and pushups, but after running through our full routine 2 or 3 times in one hour, I felt exhausted and my arms were trembling. As we neared the performance date, I wasn’t sure I would have the arm strength go get through it in front of an audience. I think adrenaline kicks in though before any performance and helped carry me through. We were able to  pretty much perfectly time and coordinate all of our moves during the dress rehearsal the night before the show, and everything went as planned show night! 
I was very grateful to have my mom and several close friends in the audience for support. We were one of the last acts in the show and waiting was pretty nerve wracking as I don’t consider myself a performer/center of stage kind of person. (Perhaps ironically since I teach!) Once we got up there, there was a delay in starting so we did have to stand on the trapeze in front of the audience for what seemed like half an hour, but was probably only one minute. I think my body took over when our song (War of the Vikings OST – Drums of Odin) started and I enjoyed every moment of our performance! 

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