5 Things Every Aerial Performance Needs

So many powerful artists have amazing technique and a multitude of skills at their fingertips, yet they give performances that are not moving or memorable. Why is this the case?

I cannot state this with more conviction and fervor: Everything reads! Whether the audience knows why she is magnetized to the performance or not is because of choices the performer is making, second-to-second, and her inner connection/breath support or lack thereof.

SO, here’s my list:

1. Connect with yourself (Self) through your breath, BEFORE you enter the performance.

2. Adrenaline will be pumping through you, so SLOW WAY DOWN in moments between your power moves.

3. Be conscious of how much you look at the apparatus before you grasp. Grabbing is often reflexive and contracts your presence. When possible, reach for apparatus with foot or hand without looking.

4. Use your hands, arms, head, feet for gesturing. Whatever is not functional for maneuvering around your apparatus is available for expressive movement.

5. Stillness is emotional currency. Spend it sparingly, yet don’t hoard it.

The Influence of Sign Language on Aerial Dance

I just performed a new solo last week for an arts association fundraiser, hosted by my husband, Don Carson and me, at The Marsh Studio.

Having focussed on my spoken word/aerial dance solo for “HerSelf Rising”(the performance with “Girls on Trapeze”) I brushed off the auras of my grandmother and great-grandmother and entered the fresh, unexplored terrain of “what now”?

Recently a student, Julie, introduced me to “signing”. She works with teaching pre-schoolers sign language so I asked Julie to show me the gestural phrase for the words “only love endures”. It was lovely. I began going through the sequence my solo, integrating that gestrual signage at points throughout the piece.

I didn’t want to exactly duplicate the phrase each time, so delving into my understanding of Laban Movement Anlaysis, I created a variation of the phrase, creating a continuity without a rigidity of repetitionSo I had the structure, the gestures, the music, and, of course, the love & generosity of performing — Ahh! — then the moment-to-moment weaving of these elements becomes the dance.  Where I see perfectly accomplished technicians falter is, in the amplified moment of performance, this alchemy is missing.  Don’t hide behind technique!  Show your heart!  

Perhaps because I have seen aerial dance and circus performances for so many years I am acutely sensitive to every nano-second of nuance, intention, head and hand gestures, ways to engaging and disengaging with the apparatus, phrasing, transitions and stillness.

As I went through my rehearsals with my iPad camera as my ally, I watched for evidence where there was a disconnect between me and the rope, the bar, myself, the imagined audience.