AERIAL ARTS NYC BLOG
I remember a silks class early on in my aerial education: The normal warm-up with my teacher was climbing on both sides, pike needles and skin the cats. This particular class was only myself and one other person who had been at it a bit longer. After I did exactly what I knew to be “correct”, I noticed my classmate was deviating from the “normal” warm-up – invert climbing, sliding down upside down, stretching her splits between the pike needles. My teacher noticed me taking this in. He said, you can do that too – you know the basics, now you can start to play.
Long story short…I didn’t. Not that day and not for a few years after that. At the time I wasn’t sure what I was afraid of, but looking back, well, you know the saying – hindsight is 20/20. It was what I had been afraid of for years in many aspects of my life – doing it wrong.
Failure – it’s something we are taught from a young age to avoid like the plague. And if you’re like me and you follow the rules, it’s not something you have too much practical experience with. You understand it theoretically – defeat, the inability to succeed. You may not have been the top of your class, but you didn’t fail.
That was my definition of failure back then. But when I surrendered to the circus world I realized without failure I would never succeed. As Sven Hopla illuminates for us in this Tedtalk, failure is in fact the process to success. As circus performers, we have to experience it practically time after time (which admittedly can be extremely frustrating) to learn a new trick, to find a new way of thinking about things, to build the muscles and flexibility necessary to do what we do.
Demystifying Failure, with Circus:
So my fellow circus enthusiasts, surrender to the failure! Join me in my favorite pass time of tying myself in knots, experiment with what you know and have the courage to experience that thing we have been running away from since we learned its’ definition. And if your teacher encourages you to “play”, try to jump in with both feet.
But as always, safety first :o)
– Lani Corson
I recently had the luxury of training with rope artists from all over the country – it was super fun. And it brought to mind something that I have really taken for granted . . . sharing!
There was a time in aerial communities when people were very proprietary: “this is my trick, I made it up, no one else can or should do it.” And maybe people are still like that somewhere . . . but in my experience, not in New York. And I love that. Sharing skills, ideas and ways of thinking is how the art form evolves and ultimately generates a richer vocabulary that we all benefit from.
The tenets of sharing:
- Pay respect to the people you learn from.
- Know the difference between stealing and sharing. If you’re presenting someone else’s work as your own, that’s stealing.
- Generosity is a sign of confidence.
So I’d like to make a shout out to some people who are super good sharers: Jaron Hollander, Terry Crane, Paul Hawxhurst, Josh Dean, Laura Sheehy, Lisa Natoli, Elizabeth Munn and Kristin Young. Thank you guys for your generosity, ideas, creativity and enthusiasm.
AERIAL TRICK NAMING
Often when I’m teaching, I demonstrate a trick and a student asks, “What’s that called?”
If you’ve been in class with me you know I will likely give some cheeky answer like “that thing we’re doing in class today” or “hipkey, wrap the leg, wrap the belly, climb up and in front, key in, pike the leg . . .”
I’m not trying to be a jerk. I just don’t love trick names.
Now, there is value to naming tricks. Without names, it would take us forever to communicate with each other1 and it’s a way to honor the people we learn from.2 I am not in favor of abolishing names, but I am in favor of using them sparingly. I find that names severely limit our imagination and our understanding. Once you name a trick, you set it in stone. It stops being something that can evolve and starts being a series of rules. I appreciate that at certain points in your aerial education, it is important to learn established sequences as a means to familiarize yourself with the apparatus, build strength and develop confidence. It’s like a songwriter studying other people’s songs. It’s an essential part of the learning process. But if you want to keep growing as an aerialist then eventually you need to start looking at tricks as what they really are: sequences. Break them down into their building blocks. Try to identify things you recognize: front balance, back balance, hipkey, s-wrap, catchers . . . Start thinking about where your weight is, what’s keeping you safe, where your body is in relation to the equipment and what movements are essential.
Because that’s what’s important. Knowing a million tricks is not nearly as valuable as knowing how to handle your body in relation to the equipment safely and efficiently. Once you know that, you are totally free to move however you want. You won’t be locked into a limited vocabulary. You’ll be able to make more sophisticated and creative choices. You can paint with all the colors instead of just the primary ones. Doesn’t that sound nice?
1 Lisa Natoli and I used to a have a sequence we called “November 11th” because it was long and complicated and that was the date we first performed it.
2 The Isabelle is called an Isabelle because of Isabelle Chasse. Google her.
3 This list is obviously vertical apparatus centric, but the idea applies to all apparatus.
5 With all of that said, DON’T GET AHEAD OF YOURSELF. If you’re not in a place in your training to start thinking this way, wait. If you are in an appropriate place, be patient. This kind of understanding doesn’t come over night. And if it does, well then come and share your genius.
By Circus Susie
Hodge podge blog post! Hodge podge blog post!
Warning to all ye who enter here: this blog post is a hodge podge blog post! It has no through line, theme or unifying features. Its just all the random stuff that’s going on. People come and go so quickly in the summer . . . it’s easy to miss out on the scoop. So here it is, the word(s) on the street:
- Our dear Kevin and Nobu are joining the cast of Queen of the Night. It’s no surprise that with their fierce skills they would get scooped up by some big show. How wonderful that the show is in NYC and we can go see them in all their handstanding and contorting glory!
- The Chicago Contemporary Circus Festival happened last weekend. In just its second year, CCCF has already made a big mark on circus in the U.S. CCCF features American and international circus productions, both large and small. There are classes with visiting artists and seminars on everything from auditioning skills to the benefits of social circus. If you can go next year: do. Not only is it a chance to see awesome work, it’s also a chance to see what is going on in the rest of the country. Everyone is there: circus artists, enthusiasts, academics, producers and fans. If you’re a lover of circus, you’d be a fool to miss it. chicagocircusfest.com
- You may have heard of Ecole Nationale de Cirque (ENC). It’s that fancy circus school in Montreal right next to the Cirque du Soleil headquarters. The kids there work HARD. And you can see the product of their labors on the ENC website. Each year, the school posts clips of the students’ final performance. So, if you’re on summer vacay and can’t get to AANYC to train, maybe spend an hour getting inspired? ecolenationaledecirque.ca
- Speaking of inspired . . . AANYC’s intensive workshops are in full swing. The students will present their acts on Saturday, July 25. Mark your calendars now!
I hope everyone is having a great summer so far. Wear sunscreen. Drink water. Make good choices. And we’ll see you at the school soon!
By Circus Susie
WHERE IN THE WORLD IS LISA NATOLI?
by Susie Williams: friend, frequent collaborator and fan of Lisa
Around here at Aerial Arts NYC we sure miss Lisa Natoli a lot.
In addition to being an inspiring teacher, Lisa is also a driven creator known for her offbeat style and challenging choreography. Since March, Lisa has been on a sort of walkabout – checking out the different aerial communities; teaching, training and performing; and (I hope) spreading her particular brand of circus across the country.
Lisa doesn’t have any set date to return to NYC, but you can rest assured that if she is planning on teaching or performing anywhere near us, AANYC will let you know!
In the meantime, I caught up with Lisa via email for a little chat about what’s what. The following is an edited excerpt of our very professional conversation.
Susie Williams: Lisa, where have you been so far?
Lisa Natoli: I have been teaching in Denver, St. Louis, Boulder, Kansas City and Phoenix. I am heading to Detroit after this.
SW: Anything unusual or remarkable about the aerial spaces in those towns?
LN: I find architecture inspiring. Some cities I don’t always vibe with the physical space. A few are in old churches and have pets running around – I like that. I usually have to sit on the floor and stare at the rope for a few days till I warm up to what the space can offer.
SW: Can you talk to me about what you’ve been working on as a performer?
LN: I took a little break from performing but I did perform in New Orleans at Cafe Istanbul. It is run by a really great man that is a true artist and advocate for people making work. It is challenging to find available space and fitting times to train so I haven’t been training as much as I would like. But I am re-working one of my rope cabaret pieces and working it into a more conceptual piece. I also want to re-do SUBTLETIES (ed. note: performed last winter at Big Sky Works in Brooklyn) and I have this image of an elephant in the room that is just an elephant.
SW: I’ve always been so intrigued by your inspirations and influences. I’ve learned about so many great artists from you. What art is inspiring you right now?
LN: I have been listening to Popol Vuh’s song Train Through Time.
SW: As some of us know, you are an excellent cook. So, I have to ask – have you had any particularly wonderful meals or drinks?
LN: Crawfish boudin balls. And an amazing Bloody Mary in New Orleans.
SW: Last but not least, can you tell us what you miss about NYC?
LN: Public transit and free available space. My students.
Read more about Lisa and her whereabouts on her website www.lisasbrightideas.com.
By Circus Susie
As a wise 5-year old once said (ahem, Susie’s niece): “All living things experience change.” And so too does Aerial Arts NYC! We have lots of changes coming up. Some wonderful, some wistful . . . but all exciting! And we’re here to tell you about them in our now monthly blog post.
On the wistful front:
The members of 2 Ring Circus (that’s Josh, Ben, Lani and Ken) are leaving us for a few months. Fear not! They will be back. They just have to go create some circus magic, like ya do. They will be collaborating with Marc Robin and the Fulton Theatre in Lancaster, PA on a circus inspired production of The Wizard of Oz. 2 Ring Circus will create an aerial and ground spectacle to add to this epic 50+ cast production. The production runs from June 2-July 12. We wish them the best of luck and look forward to hearing great reports about the show. (Hey 2 Ring, pictures please!)
On the wonderful front:
We have some awesome teachers joining us this summer! We asked them a few questions so we could tell you exactly what they’re all about.
Kiebpoli “Black*Acrobat” Calnek
Silks and Rope
What’s your background? I’m an Equity actress and director with a love of the classics and movement based experimental theatre.
How long have you been teaching/performing aerial? Since 2007. (Editor’s note: way back in the day, Kiebpoli and Susie had a performance company with Jordann Baker called Aerial Uprising. Aerialists Unite!)
What are you most looking forward to this summer? Performing in San Francisco with Topsy-Turvy Circus.
Silks, Lyra and Conditioning
What’s your background? Contemporary dance.
Tell us about some of your favorite aerial experiences. Performing in Jakarta was pretty incredible. I also loved performing on aerial wheel and flying silks – loved having someone else haul me up into the air for a change!
Can you tell us about a favorite performance you’ve seen? Stephen Petronio dance company in March 2002. I saw a woman my size so incredibly strong and unique- it gave me the inspiration and courage to pursue dance as a my career- and ultimately brought me into the air!
Silks, rope and Trapeze
What’s your background? I have been a dancer my whole life and majored in both dance and theater in college. I’ve done a lot of work professionally in concert dance and dance theater. My passion lies in movement that is expressive and character driven.
Where are you from? Worcester, MA
Anything else you want to tell AANYC about you? I have a playful and mechanical approach to teaching aerial. I like to break down movements and explore the biomechanics of being in the air. I make a lot of sound affects as I teach. I’m actively trying to spread the news that mint chocolate chip ice cream and peanut butter is a delicious combination. I have a goal to have three new tumbling tricks by the end of the summer!
Now don’t they sound like a great group? Check out their classes. Welcome them to the fold. And gear up for a lot of fun times ahead at AANYC.
And remember: make good choices!
By Circus Susie
Hello Lovely People,
AANYC has been very luck this month to have been mentioned & featured in 2 great press pieces. With Circus becoming a more prominent performing art and fitness activity, two stories came out in a signal week.
Come and join us for your high filching fitness and a great workout that jus more fun that the elliptical. Pull-ups on the Trapeze & Lyra, inverting on the Aerial Silks & Hammock, and rolling down the Rope are all great ways to gain strength and endurance. With our Contortion, Handstand, Partner Acro & Stretching Classes you can find balance and increase your flexibility. We will see you for the fun!
Welcome new instructor: Lani Corson!
Mondays: Beginner Silks 6pm, All Level Hammock 7pm, & Beginner Silks 8pm
We are thrilled to announce that Lani is joining the staff of AANYC on Mondays to offer her skills and talents on fabric and hammock to our students. These classes begin May 12th!
Lani Corson began her career as a singer and dancer, featured in countless productions across the globe in such shows as 42nd Street (International Tour), Legally Blonde (North Shore Music Theatre), Les Miserables (Riverside Theatre), State Fair (Stages St. Louis), CATS (Ogunquit Playhouse), among others. In her travels she was introduced to aerial arts – an extension of dance with an element of excitement. What began as a hobby quickly became a passion, and an invitation to explore what could become of mixing genres spiraled into a new career path. As an aerialist, Lani has performed throughout NYC and the surrounding areas on such stages as Hartford Stage, Boston Performing Arts Center, Dixon Place, Galapagos Art Space, and the annual benefit “Broadway Bares”. Most recently she has performed and coordinated the aerialists for Royal Caribbean. BFA Syracuse University.
Introducing Brenna Bradbury!
The lovely Brenna will officially be taking over classes on Saturdays!
Beginning Silks: 1pm
All Level Lyra: 2pm
Advanced Beginning Silks: 3pm
Brenna Bradbury is an aerialist, dancer, singer, choreographer, music director, and pianist who currently lives in NYC. Having graduated from Millikin University with a BFA in Musical Theatre in a dance minor, she toured the country in various musical theatre productions and both a performer (Carousel Dinner Theatre, The Little Theatre on the Square, La Comedia, Hershey Park) and music director and/or choreographer (Ariel Theatrical, La Comedia, LTOTS). She found her love for aerial arts shortly before moving to NYC, and hasn’t stopped training and performing in aerial arts and as a stunt artist since! She is thrilled to teach at Aerial Arts NYC. You can also currently find her teaching at Body and Pole and The Muse.
New All Level Static Trapeze Class with Jason Mejias!
Beginning May 16th on Fridays at 4:30pm
Due to popular demand, Jason is adding another All Level Static Trapeze Class. Here is another great opportunity to work on your Trapeze skills!
Jason began his career at the age of 8, when he joined a local Acrobatic Gymnastics team in his hometown of Arecibo, Puerto Rico. He trained and competed nationally and internationally for many years under the men’s pair and four men category. After attending college at The University of Puerto Rico for Business Administration, he decided to retire from competitive acrobatics and move to New York City, where he worked for 4 years in Sales and Retail Operations for Verizon Wireless.
It was during this time in NY when his passion for aerial and acrobatic arts was reawakened. He knew where he really wanted to be and what he was born to do. He left his previous job and in 2007 became a Flying Trapeze Instructor at Trapeze School New York where he brought a fun, yet intense approach to teaching, perfecting skills and adapting the techniques he has learned from his own experiences. Jason is now a part of Aerial Arts NYC, and will be teaching Partner Balancing and Acrobatics, for more information check out the classes section.
Currently, Jason is based out of New York City and is a recurring performer in shows like: “Floating Kabarette” at Galapagos Art Space, “The Loose Caboose Show” at Bowery Poetry club, as well as variety shows at the new Slipper Room and Coney Island. He is also the producer of “The Waterfront Follies” and co-producer of “Boys Night: An All-Male Cirquelesque Revue! For more information on where Jason will be performing next, please visit www.jasonmejias.com.
New Classes on Tuesdays beginning June 17th!
We are adding a few new classes on Tuesdays starting June 17th.
Advanced Beginning Silks with Airin Dalton 6pm
All level Hammock with Jason Mejias 6pm
We will be open for Memorial Day!
Feel free to come in and take class on Memorial Day to work off all of that celebrating! See you in class!
Like us on Facebook and join us on Twitter to keep up with all of our current updates and news!
Copyright ©2013 Aerial Arts NYC, All rights reserved.
Flying Fridays at AANYC!
Buy classes under the Flying Friday drop down menu on MindBody to get $35 classes for only $30!
SPRING NEWSLETTER 2: (Bugs fixed for codes & more news!)
Hi, Aerial Arts Enthusiasts! We are offering a new discount option currently for classes at AANYC on Fridays. If you would like to take advantage of this special, simply go through your MindBody account to the drop down menu marked Flying Fridays. This will allow you to purchase individual classes with the $5 discount. We were using a promo code, but have had some issues with it working correctly. So, in order to pass along this savings to our loyal students, we wanted to give you another option. See you on Fridays from 4:30pm – 7:30pm!
New Friday Classes!
Check out below for newly updated Friday class schedules!
Beginner Level Silks with Elizabeth: 4:30pm
All Level Static Trapeze with Jason: 4:30pm
Handstands with Nobu: 4:30pm
Follow us on Facebook to learn about outside performances and events!
Interested in seeing your instructors perform? Follow Aerial Arts NYC on Facebook for updated performances and events! Come out and see what your teachers can do!
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to keep up with all of our current updates and news!
Boys’ Night: An All-Male Cirquelesque Revue at Galapagos Art Space on May 23rd!
Speaking of seeing your instructors perform……..
Many of the male instructors at AANYC will take to the air at Galapagos Arts Space in DUMBO, Brooklyn for a night of Circus/Burlesque Revelry on Friday, May 23rd!
“Boys’ Night: An All-Male Cirquelesque Revue” is back by popular demand at Galapagos Art Space to kick off the Memorial Day Weekend! Come see the newest edition of this seasonal offering that has been voted #1 Critics Pick by Time Out New York multiple times.
Featuring: Joshua Dean, Ben Franklin, Mr. Gorgeous, Jason Mejias and Eve Starr with special guests: Kazu Chan & Henry Kravchenko!
Buy Tickets in Advance for $20: HERE Tickets at the door are $25.
For more about “Boys’ Night”, visit www.2RingCircus.com/boys-night/
Hello Aerial Friends,
We are so happy to have had Jamie La Bella at the school. Check out the link below to see photos and read about her experience.