Aerial Dance

Favorite Role: When I was Master of Ceremonies, I dressed as an flight attendant to welcome the audience and remind them to fasten their seat belts for an evening in flight. When exiting the stage, I placed an oxygen mask over the nose and mouth of one of the other performers.

Hardest Part: At the beginning of each class, we climbed to the top of the fabric twice, about 18 feet in the air. For the first few weeks, this exercise left me with noodle arms for the rest of the evening.

I decided to try Aerial Dance shortly after making the leap into Modern Dance from Ballet. It was a fantastic learning experience for me, because I got to start all over. Hanging in the air on a cloth is a completely foreign experience and I had to learn all the basic rules of locomotion over again. Instead of just contending with gravity, which is a far more powerful force once you leave the ground, I also had to stay mindful of friction and the need to be constantly anchored to the fabric. With these new constraints, I was clumsy, easily fatigued, and slow moving. Not only did I get to learn to dance all over again, I learned to move again. Slowly, over several weeks, I became acclimated, built up arm strength, and gained a subconscious awareness of the fabric. My body evolved to accept these new demands and I got to know my own physical constraints more intimately.

The Process

Since I grew up dancing, I never had to consciously confront the obstacles to learning: the discomfort of using new muscles, frustration when your body won’t do what your mind commands, and the relentless repetition necessary to master a movement. With aerial dance, I got to go through the learning process on fast-forward, experiencing all of the mental and physical discomfort over a few weeks. I realized that, as valuable as this experience has been for me, it will be very difficult to convince others who do not have the dance background that I do to try it. So, I began thinking about other ways to introduce new movement experiences, and semifold was born.

What it Means to Me

This experience strengthened my resolve to bring these new movement experiences to a broader audience. Just as academic learning strengthens our minds for all purposes and prepares them for new challenges, movement learning can improve self-confidence, promote curiosity, and above all, encourage challenging our ever-present constraints.

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