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What is an Aerial Dancer?

what is an aerial dancer

What is an Aerial Dancer?

An aerial dancer is a person who enjoys moving and making shapes with his/her/their body utilizing an apparatus suspended in the air. Aerial dance is an acrobatic art. The most common apparatuses dancers utilize are aerial silks, trapeze, lyra (hoop), sling (hammock), and rope. However, there are many more untraditional aerial apparatuses! These include, but are not limited to cloud swing, net, cube, sphere, umbrella, and ladder! Aerial dancers often enjoy creating their own unique aerial apparatuses.

Types of Aerial Dance

Aerial dance can be performance based or recreational. Cirque du Soleil popularized aerial dance as a performance art. The shows combine the athleticism of aerial dance with the theatrics of performing arts. Many studios, including Aerial Cirque Over Denver offer performance classes and showcases. Recreationally, aerial dance is gaining popularity as a fitness program. For example, there is a strong focus on building core and upper body strength. However, this is done through learning skills and tricks, rather than traditional and repetitive weight-based movements. This makes aerial dance a unique and fun fitness option.

Who Can Learn Aerial Dance?

Aerial dance is for every-body! There is a misconception that people can only do aerial if they are small, flexible, and strong. This is untrue! Aerial dance can be done by people of all ages and sizes. The ability to perform aerial dance is not determined by size or weight, but rather by strength, flexibility, and technique. People of all sizes and shapes can participate in aerial dance with proper training and techniques to accommodate their individual physical abilities.

Weight limit is a common question that people ask. Our studio rigging is extremely strong and a single point can support doubles and even triples. In other words, the rigging can handle multiple people, so it can absolutely support a plus sized body. We do not have a weight limit at Aerial Cirque over Denver, and any studio you are looking into should not either. Aerial dance is an inclusive activity.

How to Learn Aerial Dance?

Learn from a reputable aerial dance studio

It is recommended that you learn aerial dance from a reputable school or studio. This will be the safest option and the one that allows you to progress fastest. Inquire about their rigging and how they keep people safe. For example, it’s unfortunately common for studios to rig their equipment setup without the help and certification of an engineer or rigger. This is not safe! A reputable studio will have their rigging installed and maintained by professionals.

Also, inquire about the training the instructors have been through and if the school uses certified crash mats. Yoga mats and other non-gymnastics style crash mats are not safe enough for aerial! Even a fall from a “short” height can be dangerous if you are upside-down. It is not recommended to learn aerial dance from online sources, such as youtube, or at home. Read our article about aerial dance home rigging risks.

Be consistent

We recommend new aerial dancers take class at least once or twice a week. This will build strength, flexibility, and muscle memory. Aerial dance is both strength and endurance based. The more time spent on the apparatus, the more progress you will see.

We often get asked how long it will take to learn aerial dance. The amount of time it takes to learn depends on various factors such as the frequency and duration of your training sessions, prior experience with dance or gymnastics, current physical fitness, and the difficulty level of the moves. Typically, it will take several months to a year or more of consistent training to achieve a basic level of proficiency in aerial dance.

Don’t get discouraged!

In short, aerial dance is hard! You may not achieve a trick the first time you try it. This is especially true for harder tricks where you are in the air longer periods of time holding yourself up. Our aerial beginner classes at Aerial Cirque Over Denver focus on starting with the basics and building from there. For example, in the first class you would learn spinning, flying, and different body positions. A few classes in, you would be introduced to climbing the silks. You may not be able to climb the silks by the end of a session and that’s ok. Be patient and be consistent. You will get it.

To be an aerial dancer, you don’t need to be able to do a certain trick or look a certain way. You don’t need a straight arm invert or all your splits. An aerial dancer is simply a lover of moving one’s body suspended in the air. It’s fun and it builds strength. Interested in trying a class? Learn more about our adult aerial basics classes!

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