Ready to Run Away With the Circus? These Acrobats Can Teach You How!

by Emma Tilden

Yesterday I ran away with the circus. 

Let me rephrase that.  Yesterday I left work a little early to take the 20 minute PATH Train ride to Aerial Acrobat Entertainment in Jersey City.  There, I took an hour-long Lyra & Trapeze class, taught by Guinevere DiPiazza. 

I’ll admit that I was a little nervous—I can’t remember the last time I attempted anything that requires upper body strength (unless typing on a computer counts as exercise), and I was secretly convinced that, with my unbelievably un-muscled arms, I’d be laughed out of the studio. 

But Guinevere was extremely receptive to my concerns and worked to shape the class to my abilities. She said that aerials are starting to be grouped with yoga and pilates as ways of getting a bit of exercise, and that a lot of people who have never done them before are starting to take classes.  

We started off with some stretching while chatting and listening to the music play softly in the background. Guinevere told me that she came to New York as a dancer, but that, after taking an aerials class, she switched tracks, feeling drawn to the way that aerials combines dance with gymnastics.  In addition to teaching classes and performing aerials at events, she is also enrolled in the aerials track at a teaching school, which has given her a strong sense of the importance of technique. 

After stretching, we moved on to the trapeze, where I started learning how to pull myself up to the bar (with Guinevere’s help—let’s not kid ourselves that I can do a pull-up).  As the lesson continued I really got a sense of her understanding of the human body—as she introduced each move she told me about which muscles I would be using and which common mistakes I should work to avoid. 

Next we tried the lyra, also known as the aerial hoop, aerial ring or cerceau, which is like a large, super-strong hula hoop which is suspended from the ceiling.  I had a great time, learning how to hang upside down from my legs, how to sit in the hoop as it spun in circles, and how to hold myself in the air using only arms while posing my legs. It was very exciting! 

Of course, there are other classes available as well. Aerial Acrobat Entertainment offers beginner and intermediate, child and adult classes on a drop-in basis. You can stop by and take a class in silks and hammocks, lyra and trapeze, juggling, plate spinning, rolabola, hula-hoop, diabolo, rolling globe, unicycle and many others!  


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