Aerial Dance – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Dance Styles Glossary

I. What is Aerial Dance?

Aerial dance is a form of performance art that combines elements of dance, acrobatics, and aerial gymnastics. It involves performers using various types of equipment, such as aerial silks, hoops, trapezes, and ropes, to create stunning visual displays while suspended in the air. Aerial dance requires strength, flexibility, and grace, as performers move through the air with fluidity and precision.

Aerial dance can be performed solo, in duets, or in groups, and can be choreographed to music or performed as improvisation. It is a physically demanding art form that challenges performers to push their bodies to new heights, both literally and figuratively.

II. History of Aerial Dance

The origins of aerial dance can be traced back to traditional circus acts, where performers would use aerial equipment as part of their routines. However, aerial dance as a standalone art form began to emerge in the 1970s and 1980s, with pioneers such as Terry Sendgraff and Fred Deb’ forming the basis of modern aerial dance techniques.

In the 21st century, aerial dance has gained popularity in the mainstream, with performances appearing in theaters, festivals, and even on television shows. Aerial dance has evolved to incorporate elements of contemporary dance, circus arts, and even yoga, creating a unique and dynamic form of expression.

III. Types of Aerial Dance Equipment

There are several types of equipment commonly used in aerial dance, each offering its own unique challenges and possibilities for movement. Some of the most popular types of aerial dance equipment include:

– Aerial silks: Also known as aerial fabric or tissue, aerial silks consist of two long pieces of fabric suspended from the ceiling. Performers use the silks to wrap, twist, and suspend themselves in the air, creating stunning visual displays.

– Aerial hoop: Also known as a lyra or aerial ring, the aerial hoop is a circular metal apparatus suspended from the ceiling. Performers use the hoop to spin, hang, and contort their bodies in a variety of poses.

– Trapeze: The trapeze consists of a horizontal bar suspended from the ceiling by ropes or chains. Performers use the trapeze to swing, flip, and hang upside down while suspended in the air.

– Aerial rope: Aerial rope, also known as corde lisse, is a thick rope suspended from the ceiling. Performers use the rope to climb, wrap, and suspend themselves in the air, creating dynamic and powerful movements.

IV. Techniques and Movements in Aerial Dance

Aerial dance requires a combination of strength, flexibility, and coordination to perform the intricate movements and poses involved. Some common techniques and movements in aerial dance include:

– Climbing: Performers use their arms and legs to climb up and down the aerial equipment, transitioning between poses and movements.

– Wrapping: Performers use the fabric, hoop, or rope to wrap around their bodies, creating support and stability for various poses and movements.

– Drops: Drops involve releasing the grip on the aerial equipment and free-falling before catching oneself again. Drops can be dramatic and visually striking, adding excitement to a performance.

– Spins: Performers use momentum to spin around the aerial equipment, creating dynamic and fluid movements in the air.

– Inversions: Inversions involve hanging upside down or in a suspended position, challenging performers to maintain balance and control while defying gravity.

V. Safety Considerations in Aerial Dance

Safety is paramount in aerial dance, as performers are suspended high above the ground and performing intricate movements that require strength and precision. Some important safety considerations in aerial dance include:

– Proper training: Performers should undergo thorough training with qualified instructors to learn proper techniques, safety protocols, and spotting techniques.

– Equipment inspection: Aerial equipment should be regularly inspected for wear and tear, and any damaged or compromised equipment should be repaired or replaced immediately.

– Spotting: Spotters should be present during rehearsals and performances to assist performers in case of a fall or emergency.

– Warm-up and cool-down: Performers should warm up their bodies before each aerial session to prevent injury, and cool down afterwards to aid in recovery.

– Physical conditioning: Aerial dance requires strength, flexibility, and endurance, so performers should engage in regular physical conditioning to maintain their fitness levels.

VI. Popular Aerial Dance Performances and Companies

There are many renowned aerial dance companies and performers around the world who have gained recognition for their innovative and breathtaking performances. Some popular aerial dance companies include:

– Cirque du Soleil: Known for their spectacular productions and acrobatic performances, Cirque du Soleil features aerial dance as a central element in many of their shows.

– Pilobolus: This American dance company is known for their unique blend of dance, acrobatics, and aerial work, creating visually stunning and emotionally engaging performances.

– BANDALOOP: This Oakland-based dance company specializes in vertical dance, performing on the sides of buildings, cliffs, and other vertical surfaces using harnesses and ropes.

– Fidget Feet: This Irish aerial dance company combines dance, circus arts, and aerial work to create dynamic and immersive performances that push the boundaries of traditional dance.

In conclusion, aerial dance is a dynamic and visually striking art form that combines elements of dance, acrobatics, and aerial gymnastics to create stunning performances that defy gravity. With its rich history, diverse techniques, and emphasis on safety, aerial dance continues to captivate audiences around the world and push the boundaries of what is possible in the realm of performance art.