So on Tuesday, I mentioned how competing forces are conspiring to keep me away from writing and taking pictures for this space. One of those forces is actually a new hobby I’ve picked up over the last month. About a month ago, while enjoying my first post-show week of no rehearsals, a friend convinced me to come up to a circus school nearby and take a class in aerial arts.
Now, most people know of aerial silks as what they do in Cirque du Soleil, where beautiful and strong dancer climb and play in fabric that drapes down from the ceiling. Yeah, that’s what I’ve taken up: climbing the curtains.
I’ve taken ballet for a few years now, and other forms of dance, so I knew I would be flexible and perhaps even graceful enough to do aerial arts, but I was very, very worried about my strength. Aerials requires pretty good strength in your arms, but also your core and your hands. So far, it seems like my hands are my biggest weakness.
But it’s still so fun. We start every class with some warm-ups, and then about fifteen minutes on the trapeze (not the flying trapeze), where we work on strength and maybe one or two tricks. Then, we move on to the fabric for a half an hour, learning a few new tricks and practicing ones we’ve learned before. Oh yeah, and as soon as we take the trapeze away and lower our fabric, our first task is to climb the fabric before we start any other tricks. Helps build strength.
I’ve been amazed at how easy some of the things are. Aerial tricks use a combination of strength and leverage so you’re not always using all your own body’s strength. And where you are using your strength, things are designed to help you use your strongest muscles where possible. For example, in climbing, you actually do very little with your arms; most of the upward work comes from your leg muscles. I don’t know about any of you, but my legs are much bigger and stronger than my arms!
Finally, even in the stumbling awkwardness of a beginner, I find aerials to be so graceful and fun. When I’ve gotten myself into a pose properly and can just arch and stretch and somewhat relax, supported by fabric, with the tails cascading down dramatically, it’s a beautiful feeling. It makes me feel like a ninja and a dancer at the same time.
So even though I tend to be left with sore hands and arms and legs the day after a class, it’s so so worth it!