So it’s been about six weeks, give or take, since I started my aerial endeavors and first shinnied up a strand of silk. Things are coming more naturally now; I’m not sore for days afterward and I can climb a decent distance above the ground before getting that fluttery, good-Lord-the-floor-is-far-away feeling. My brain seems to have caught up with all of this wrap, knot and lock business and I can go through a few basics before getting tired or confused, or both.

Mad hammock skills!

I do, however, still spend a lot of time tired. And confused. But, ironically, I’m usually having an awesome time despite muscles that twitch involuntarily and “what did she just do??” moments. As it turns out, being airborne is fun and addictive. Our non-human primate pals might be onto something with all that brachiating they do.

Skills, predictably, have gotten harder as we’ve gone along. An interesting thing about silks is that tricks tend to build on either basic wraps or one another. For example, a hip key is the beginning of a lot of moves, including those impressive drops and falls that circus smarty-pantses do. A figure-eight knot, which can be tied around one foot or two separate feet, allows the aerialist to do all kinds of fancy stuff, like splits and inverted poses.This modular quality of the discipline means that, once you’ve got some basics down, you start progressing more quickly.

A close cousin to silks is the hammock, which, as the name suggests, is a looped piece of fabric instead of a purely vertical one. This is also an apparatus that has been added into our weekly repertoire. The fabric is the same, but maneuvering is a different animal and requires separate techniques from silks.

Perplexed looks generally begins with the pullover, which is essentially a hips-over-face movement that gets a person into the thing (think of a gymnast pulling themselves up and over a horizontal bar.) From this point, you generally work from a seated or fully reclined position. The loop makes inversions easier and knots a little less prolific. Strength elements, however, remain the same: your forearms and fingers will be dying after an hour on either.

Two figure-eight knots + overly long hamstrings = a hmm, that's not the trick I showed you ...

Despite snazzy new moves, the basics of aerial work have remained the same. Practice is important, and this can be difficult when you don’t have a 40-foot-long strand of fabric handy. Things don’t always go as planned … as the photo above demonstrates. Patience is a good thing to keep on hand. Enthusiasm is advantageous, and nothing quite beats that moment of stillness that descends right before a stunt.

For more information about aerial training, check out the Hayden Productions Vegas website.

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