Aerial silks are a relatively modern element of Leighann Kowalsky’s Circus Arts coursework. Circus Arts includes a study of the performative and historical elements of the circus and also the circus itself as an art form.
An early item on the syllabus, students performing on the silks build strength, focus, and coordination that are useful throughout the coursework and in other subjects. Fabrics are suspended from the ceiling and rigged to swivel and stretch slightly as different climbs, wraps, and maneuvers are performed. Students learn a basic vocabulary of moves, or tricks, that can be sequenced into performances of varying length and difficulty.
By wrapping the fabric around feet and hands, performers can climb into various poses and employ a variety of grips to move from trick to trick. The sequences are carefully choreographed to present as a continuous movement. Performances can resemble ballet, yoga, or gymnastics and flow gracefully from start to finish, like an aerial dance routine.