My initial firsthand experience came from joining the Caravan Stage on the East Coast tour of Red Tides in 2003. I was hired as a dancer and learned cool things like how to sail a tall ship and became a fire performer as there were many instances throughout the show in which it was required. We also had aerial artists on board and the aerial silks would flow in the air and brush the decks like the most graceful of sails. It was amazing.
After the journey was over, I immediately sought about some serious aerial dance lessons. At the time, aerial dance was just beginning to hit mainstream. I ordered an industrial aerial silk of my own and looked for outside opportunities to practice. I suddenly became a fan of live oak trees as these types of trees provided the best branches for hooking the aerial tissue over and securing it against its strong trunk. It was very challenging to practice on my own when I couldn’t get downtown for a proper lesson. If you are to practice on your own make sure you’ve had a few professional lessons. I definitely wouldn’t recommend self-teaching on the aerial silk without initial safety provisions and guidelines from an experienced aerial dance instructor.
Here are some points for concentration in the beginning stages:
- The Climb – Make sure you can climb to the top and down with control at least a few times in a row, probably five times with ease before attempting more dynamic exercises off the ground.
- Locks – Make sure you know by heart and with your eyes closed, foot locks and knee locks that could save your life in case of a fall.
- Pull-Ups – If you cannot do a pull-up, you should work on the strength to do one before attempting any off the ground stunts.
I like aerial dance as an art rather than another fitness avenue. Sure anyone who is remotely fit can do aerial dance if they study the proper technique. Artistry is the ingredient that makes this a visual stunning performance. When I see people just going for the feats, it loses the magic for me, at least a little. If we add some artistic flair, this genre of dance and movement will continue to flourish in the future generations.