Aerial Silks 6

Get Wrapped Up 
in New Form of Fitness

Aerial silks is a true spectacle in exercise. The colorful flowing silks anchored at great heights distinguish this unusual athletic pastime from any other. The curious and elegant activity is captivating to behold, featuring the grace of an aerialist who expertly manipulates the colorful fabric like an acrobat in the circus.

Fresh to our vicinity, aerial silks has been introduced by West Chester Academy as a brand new and unique form of exercise. It is appropriate for all ages and abilities and is characterized by three main maneuvers in a variety of combinations: climbs, wraps and drops. These tricks are done while gripping two strips of brightly colored silk fabric, each roughly one yard wide, hanging fourteen feet from ceiling to floor.

While strength and a limber body are ideal for perfecting such stunts, these characteristics are very much earned as a result of one’s continued effort in the activity. One major draw to participation in aerial silks is the healthful advantage of cross-training with other sports. Fitness and increased flexibility are also enticements. It is most certainly a workout.

The unique movements required in aerials silks cultivate flexibility and muscle. An aerialist lifts and manipulates his or her body weight while gripping the fabric. The intrigue of aerial silks for the artist as well as the onlooker is no coincidence.

The activity was created and perfected by a former Cirque du Soleil performer and current choreographer André Simard. Simard, a former Olympic gymnast, is highly revered in the world of circus arts, where he trains performers and develops aerial acts. Aerial silks has earned mainstream affection in just the last two to five years.

The advantage for West Chester Academy in offering such a class is not only to present a highly unique course to its families, but to provide an opportunity to further enhance the skills of its current dance and gymnastics students.

Savannah Biedenbach, a ballet and aerial silks instructor at West Chester Academy, respects the new aerials class as a cross-training experience.

“It is excellent for upper body strength. Dancers come in and have trouble with that. It’s also great for stretching as well as flexibility,” she says.

Aerial silks is a great way to perfect “the splits,” a difficult position required of dancers and gymnasts.

Even with very little experience, an aerial silks student gains confidence quite quickly. Participants are in complete control of their own movements and perfect maneuvers close to the ground before increasing their height. Elegant and impressive effects with the swaying silks are easily created even for the beginner aerialist.

For young athletes, aerial silks as a form of exercise is quite the novelty.

“It’s really fun. It builds your muscles. It’s fun to do aerial stunts in the air,” says Evie Colpi, an 11-year-old budding aerialist at West Chester Academy. Early feedback from parents suggests a flurry of excitement among the students regarding the new class.

West Chester Academy is currently enrolling for its aerial silks classes and can accommodate pupils ages 5–18.

“We are partnering with parents to help provide for their children opportunities in the performing arts. We help them find their gifts and strengths. Our new aerial silks class is just another way we are able to do this,” says Owner Patsy Rabinowitz.