Aerial Arts or Aerial Dance refers to any of the acrobatic or circus style disciplines utilising suspended apparatus that hangs from a rigging point. The most common of these are Aerial Silks, Aerial Hoop (also known as a Lyra), Trapeze (which includes static, swinging, flying and dance trapeze), Aerial Rope, Straps, Hammocks and Cloud Swing, but there are many other unique apparatuses of different shapes and sizes.
Years ago, if you wanted to learn any of these circus skills, you literally had to run away and join the circus. These days however, thanks to their growing popularity and recognition as an all-round excellent and exciting workout, recreational Aerial Dance classes are becoming more accessible to everyone.
The Silk Workshop is proud to be one of the original Aerial Dance Performing Arts Schools in South Africa having begun teaching Aerial Silks to students in 2011. We now offer classes and workshops in Lyra and Trapeze as well.
Aerial Silks is the art of suspended dance and is the youngest of the aerial arts, first appearing in a French Circus School in 1959. It is grace and beauty incarnate, at times static, at times dynamic, and at all times mesmerizing, totally captivating it’s audience.
Technique over strength is used to achieve each manoevre and with the right training and a bit of perseverance, anyone can learn how to do it.
Aerial Hoop (Lyra)
When exactly the Lyra first made its appearance as a performing art in the circus is rather vague. It is known, however, that since the late 1700s, metal hoops were used in house yards as a way of recreation for children.
The Lyra can be static, rotating or it can be used as a swing. Moves can vary from transitioning through static poses to more dynamic drops, and even releases and catches if you are feeling particularly daring.
It certainly is one of the most fun and beautiful forms of the aerial arts and students progress very quickly in the use of this apparatus.
A trapeze is a short horizontal bar hung by ropes or metal straps from a support. It is an aerial apparatus commonly found in circus performances. Trapeze acts may be static, spinning (rigged from a single point), swinging or flying, and may be performed solo, double, triple or as a group act.
The art of trapeze performance was developed by Jules Léotard, a young French acrobat and aerialist, in Toulouse in the mid-1800s. He invented the flying trapeze, practising over his father’s swimming pool.
– Working out on an aerial apparatus requires no contact with the skin and it is preferable to stay fully dressed to protect yourself from burns and bruises.
– Avoid loose clothing. Because it folds, this can inhibit your movement or even tear. Wear tight and comfortable clothes at all times.
– Jeans and shorts must be avoided.
– Select clothing without metal parts e.g. zips or belts, as this may cause damage or get stuck and cause injuries.
– Remove all jewellery.
– Keep your hair in a bun or a pony-tail.
– Appropriate options are: tight t-shirts or vests, long leggings, and long-sleeved shirts. Bring a jersey to keep your muscles warm between play.
– No shoes are allowed on the equipment. Socks may be worn on the Lyra but barefoot is required for silks.
– Ask your instructor if you are unsure if what you are wearing is appropriate.