5 Tips from 4 Years Of Aerial

Learn from my mistakes. <3


Hey there, You Person You. 

On February 15th, it will be 4 whole ass years that I started doing aerial arts. I remember my first class like yesterday. I was taking an intro gymnastics class for adults when I met this super graceful woman who could climb to the top of the rope and literally roll down it without hands.I remember looking at her and instantly feeling my jaw hit the tumble mat. After briefly composing my jaw hinges, I asked how in the world she could do that! She told me about aerial arts and that she is a silk artists who just started to take rope classes. She said she was going to the studio for a private lesson next week and that she can ask if I can come along. 

I immediately said yes.

I was so dumb struck when we rolled up to someone’s house and even more so to see there were ropes and silks and everything else hanging in the instructors living room. I remember the powerful conversations held, how comfortable everyone was with each other and the general cantor of an open and friendly environment. 

In 4 years, I now know that isn't everyone's first experience with aerial. I know that gyms can be cold, negatively competitive with inexperiences instructors. I know that I've been lucky to not experience that firstly where I recognize it as a baseline. And I realize that information can defeat luck in most situations.

So, here are 5 things I've learned in the past 4 years. 


That's right. Whether you're going to your first class ever, or taking an advance level workshop with Emiliano Ron for release moves, bring layers. Wear your tights under your leggings. Bring a damn leotard and a bra underneath. Have not only a tank top and a sweatshirt but a sweat wicking shirt that covers your armpits. I look at my body now and it's covered in scars from abrasions and unnecessary calluses. Also, I know that netted leggings are in right now BUT LET ME TELL YOU WHAT HURTS MORE THAN HELL ITSELF, is getting a friction burn from a trapeze bar on the back of your knees where your fancy Lululemon ass leggings have mesh instead of fabric. 

NUMBER TWO: Allow yourself to train with different people.

There’s nothing wrong with getting multiple viewpoints. While fundamentals for technique shouldn’t change throughout coaches, because technique abd safety shouldn’t be compromised to get a move down, people learn the same moves in different ways. And your body might click with someone saying it a different way. And that's okay. It’s also nice to see the similiarities between coaches just as much as the differences. Sometimes students are hard headed, and it's cool to see a second opinion backing up the one you may have criticized. 

NUMBER THREE: Enjoy student shows!

Wahoo! You’ve busted your ass! And now you have a piece to show! I bet youre nervous as hell but guess what… THOSE FRIENDS AND FAMILY OUT THERE ARE JUST EXCITED TO SEE SOMEONE CLIMB A ROPE. Just have fun and add theatrics. Also, if you feel pressured to put on a student showcase after a few months of classes, take your time! You’re not more or less of an artists because of how long it took for you to do your first aerial show. Enjoy your process and your journey for what it is, yours. 

NUMBER FOUR:  Gigs require WAY more planning than just an audience and an apparatus.

LOL, this is a lesson I learned the HARD way. Now that you’ve performed and you have a social media pressence, there are folks reaching out and they want you to perform! But NOW maybe even for MONEY! And that’s exciting! You may think, okay, I just used a rig for my last show… I’ll just put it up and do aerial! Easy Peasy!

Whether it’s a private party or a public event sponsored by the city, there is just so much more work that goes into planning a production for aerial arts than setting up and taking down a rig. If you want to learn all the ins and outs, you have to make the time to LEARN them. Ask an aerialists you admire how they got started. Ask your instructor if they’re interested in doing more shows and that you’ll volunteer in production. If you think an aerial production is just setting up a rig and doing a 4 minute set, well, that's all you're marketing yourself for and you're not only cutting yourself short but also the hard working professionals out there making their art a living. There's an amazing article written by one of my favourite aerialist Racheal Strickland. Take a look <3 

NUMBER 5: Don't burn bridges

You know what's really small? The aerial community. I think with Instagram and FB it's not only easier to notice how interwoven we all are, but social media even helps create even more bonds within our cirque subculture. It's a very connected cliche that ranges the entire globe. And with that, a lesson I've learned is to not burn unnecessary bridges. Key word there being unnecessary. Try not to gossip and try not to over judge because in the circus world, there's only 2 degrees of separation. If you want to treat aerial as a profession, then be professional. If you want to treat aerial as an afterwork hobby then go ahead and gab. Just don't be surprised if it means you don't get a gig later down the road. *All of this to say, that sometimes you have a light a bridge on fire, and walk away so fast that you don't get to watch it burn. While those experiences have consequences, they are SATISFYING AS FUCK.* 

NUMBER SIX:  Have fun.

If that means turning off your instagram because of FOMO or being overly comparative with others, then do it. You are on your own aerial journey and no one can tell your story like you do. <3

Yes! Angles and Layers! &nbsp;Photo from Pinterest. The artist is @elenakatastrofa

Yes! Angles and Layers!  Photo from Pinterest. The artist is @elenakatastrofa

And don't forget, Pre Sale for the Aerial Badass t-shirts is on right meow. Just check out the "shop" option for more info. 


Dana Orr3 Comments