Last fall, I began taking flying trapeze classes and loved the challenge of performing tricks while suspended in the air. What I did not enjoy was being up on the pedestal board, which is the 12 inch deep platform that performers stand on and launch from. Even though I don’t have a significant fear of heights, that damned platform would freak me out every single time I went up there. When you set up to launch off the board, you have to lean completely forward, either by holding onto the side rail or having someone hold you at the waist while you lean waaaaaaay forward. It’s completely unnerving. After three flying trapeze classes, and twenty visits to that blasted board, I still hated being up on the board so much that it distracted me from the joy I felt when I was finally swinging on the trapeze. I could no longer deal with the feeling that my heart wanted to leap out of my chest every time I stood on the board, so I abandoned my pursuit of the flying trapeze.
Though I was pretty much done with flying trapeze, I began to consider taking classes in static trapeze, bungee trapeze, and lyra hoop. I also looked into aerial silks and was so fascinated that I had determined that it was the aerial art I wanted to try next. My roommate and friend Myra bought me a silks class session for Christmas (thank you Myra!), so my opportunity to try silks came about even sooner than I had expected. I booked a class session and headed over to the dance studio earlier this week after work.
The instructor, Kylie, was very friendly and really knew how to explain the tricks in a way which anyone could understand. She showed me the first move, which was a straddle mount inversion. You can see a straddle mount inversion demonstrated in this video:
After Kylie demonstrated the move, she had me come up and try it. I grabbed the silks and attempted to jump into a straddle. No go. My legs folded in and I sank to the mat. I tried a second time and got it, but I didn’t look nearly as graceful as the former ballerina who was now trying to instruct me on the art of aerial silks.
We then did the single foot lock:
And aerial splits:
Throughout the class, I also did arabesques and other ballet-inspired moves while suspended on the silks (it’s a good thing I took basic ballet when I was a kid!). At the end of the 75 minute class in aerial silks, my interest had not waned. I was intrigued. I loved the challenge of using the strength in my abdominals and arms, but the forearm tendinitis and achiness in my wrists and hands became limiting factors in my stamina, so I have some concerns about taxing my body by taking more classes. There are other obstacles as well: 1. lack of free time, 2. lack of funds, and 3. not wanting to remember all the choreography in my already very full brain.
If you are considering taking aerial silks, be aware that you will be at a distinct advantage if you have a strong upper body, because you will be supporting your body weight with your upper body for the majority of the time. If you have severe arthritis in your shoulders, elbows, wrists or hands, you will not enjoy silks. This is a VERY challenging art!