With the exception of tap dance at the age of four I have never been the type of girl to go out for dance classes. To say I was intimidated when I walked in the door of Aerial Dance Over Denver would be an understatement. I was there for Aerial Basics however prior to that class the Aerial Fabric class was wrapping up. The girls taking the class were young, tiny, and talented. I was wondering what I got myself into.
I was greeted quickly and immediately felt much more at ease. Our instructor Megan facilitated introductions while we went through a warm up routine. Megan explained that over the next four weeks we would be learning about fabric, trapeze, hoop, Spanish web, and harness. The Aerial Basics class is designed to give students a chance to explore the different types of apparatus while staying low to the ground and getting a great workout in the process.
The classes were structured with a ten minute warm up and right on to the apparatus. Our warm ups consisted of tasks that reminded me of high school gym class including jumping jacks. On some evenings the warm up consisted of about 90 sit ups as well, that's something that stayed with me through the week (ouch). The first week we explored the Fabric. I have a new appreciation for Aerial performers after playing with the fabric. Getting yourself into postures in the air isn't terribly hard if you don't care how it looks. You will wobble and the movements will be jerky. It requires amazing control of your body and the fluid fabric to make it all look effortless.
The following week we explored the Trapeze. I actually loved it and I thought it would be the apparatus I liked the least. I used to love monkey bars when I was little but the Trapeze is much harder to hang on to. As with fabric you can get up and maneuver through but the bar shakes and every movement causes it to swing. It's the grace of slow controlled movements that make it look beautiful.
We then followed with Hoop, which is like the Trapeze but solid suspended hoop. This was not a favorite for me. While it's fun the apparatus was very hard for me to get up on because it is wide and my arms are short (like the rest of me). We did similar movements to the Trapeze including swing in a circle while hanging below the Hoop. That part I really enjoyed.
We spent a smaller amount of time on the Spanish Web and Harness. The Spanish Web is basically a thick rope with a hand strap at the top. Crawling up it is quite difficult, I got burnt out before I could get my hand secured at the top. The Harness was just like a climbing harness, then you're locked in via a carabiner to a suspended rope. This allowed for a lot of space to explore my movement and be fluid and I tried some supported yoga postures.
At the end of the session I had to decide if I wanted to call it quits, take another session of Aerial Basics, or choose an apparatus to concentrate on. I actually opted to explore their Aerial Yoga classes and fell in love with it.
Having taken the Aerial Basics and learning to use fabric was helpful but not necessary. The Aerial Yoga class begins with about 35 minutes of flow yoga on the ground. It's a great warm up and also gets my heart going. Then we move to the fabric and do supported postures. If you've done Iyengar yoga then Aerial will come pretty easy because you're used to props. If you're used to another yoga style you will be amazed at how the fabric support helps your range and inversions.
At this point I am going to keep Aerial Yoga as a part of my regular practice and I am considering exploring Aerial Fabric more after getting through the holidays. While I have no delusions that I will someday be performing in Cirque Du Soleil I do appreciate any workout that is fun and nontraditional.
If you're in the Denver area I recommend check out Aerial Dance Over Denver. If you're not in the area Google "Aerial Dance" in your location and see what you find.
Photo Courtesy of Aerial Dance Over Denver