Triple Salto

I have accomplished one of my goal moves, the triple salto. Here is the video of it:

It is definitely the easier of my two goal moves, but at least I did it! And don’t mind my happy squeal at the end… Usually, I post these types of videos to my Facebook page, but I didn’t post this one. I want to keep it a secret, or at least not remind everyone of it.

I’m still working on the meat hook, but I don’t see much progress yet. Although, I did see a cool training video that has inspired me. Here it is:


A Reflection

This post doesn’t have a lot to do with dance. Instead, I wanted to reflect on my experience with this blog.

The class that got me to start The Hammock Aerialist in the first place is coming to an end. I suppose that means that this entire blog could also come to an end if I wanted. But I don’t want it to, I have lots of ideas in my head about what I could do to increase readership, optimize my search engine results, and make this a wildly popular blog.

These are still goals for me. I feel like I completed the requirements for my class, but I want more. My readership is very low. I’m not on the first five pages of Google (or probably even the next five; I stopped looking). I don’t have much reader interactions, and I feel like I didn’t post everything that I could have (I wanted to show other types of cirque dance, more bendy pictures, and better info graphics). Plus, if I quit now, you will never know how the Bella Me Pole, Disney Villains, or Aerialympics performances turn out.

Last night I texted Natasha (the owner of the studio I’m supposed to be teaching for). It didn’t go well. I said that I hoped she had (actually my phone auto-corrected to ‘hag’) a lovely Thanksgiving. She wrote back asking who this was because she lost her phone. I told her it was me and then asked how her barefoot hike went (the last time I talked to her, she was in Colorado and sent me a picture of this mountain saying that she was about to hike it without shoes on). She never wrote back.

This very reason was why I was trying to stay cautiously optimistic. Something like this was bound to happen and I didn’t want to be devastated. I’m facing the music and realizing that my career as a hammock teacher isn’t going to start at that particular studio. I’m not super upset, but honestly a little disappointed. I feel like I’m missing an opportunity, and I might even be a little bit jealous of my friend who just became a teacher at Missy’s studio (even though she’s all caught up in drama now).

Rather Be

I was reading through previous posts, and I have left some loose ends.

First, I have decided on a song for the Winterland performance for Bella Me Pole. My song is “Rather Be” by Clean Bandit. I like that song because it has a lot going on; classical violins and pianos, soulful vocals, and differing tempos. If you haven’t heard the song, click here.

I don’t have a lot of time to choreograph, but luckily I learned a combo a few months back that I think will work. Here is that combo to Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me”:

 I’m going to add a few pretty things to this choreography, and that should leave me with only about a minute left of “Rather Be” to fill.

Second, that last-minute performance invitation my friend offered, I didn’t get to do it. The performance date was pushed back a day, and I had to work. Oh well…

Third, I want to update you on the Disney Villain routine. I’ll be performing with Dr. Facilier from The Princess and the Frog (“Friends on the Other Side”), Madam Mim from The Sword in the Stone (“Marvelous Madam Mim”), and Scar from The Lion King (“Be Prepared”). I’ll be Ursula from The Little Mermaid (“Poor Unfortunate Souls”).

Each of us chose about a minute’s worth of our respective songs and we mashed them together. While one person is dancing in the hammock during their part of the song, the other three will be back up dancers.

One minute is not a long time to choreograph, so we all just chose simple moves, deciding to be more fun and dance-y instead of throwing impressive tricks.

We got our audition video sent in but we need to clean the routine, especially the back up dancers’ parts. I have two concerns about this routine: because of our schedules, it’s not very often that we all practice together; and Madam Mim’s part of the song is super quiet that you can hardly even hear it (even with the volume cranked up). But we have a couple months to work out all the kinks, so I’m sure it will all be fine!

Meat Hook

I haven’t posted in a while because there was nothing to write about. Now I do have something to write about, even if it is just a little bit.

I’ve set two new goal moves for myself (and it’s not even New Year’s Resolution time yet):

1. Meat Hook

2. Triple Salto

I want to put both of these in the Aerialympics Competition (the “Talk Dirty” routine from my first blog post is last year’s competition piece) in the Spring.

Audiences are impressed by beautiful splits, but in the dance world, having your splits is usually pretty standard. For that reason, moves, like the meat hook don’t get a lot of applause even though it is one of the hardest moves you could do. The picture at the top of this post is a meat hook (I found it here), the aerialist is on a different apparatus, but it will look the same.

Remember that “All Things Salto” training video I posted a few posts back? Well the last thing I showed was a double salto (which is like a double front flip, if you didn’t see the video). I want to add another flip on there for a triple salto. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it performed (but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything, I’m simply hoping that no one else will do it in this particular performance).

It is for those reasons that I am determined to put those two moves in my competition piece. I think the meat hook will give me lots of points, and I think a triple salto will be super impressive.

But I have a problem. My core (especially my obliques) is not strong enough to do a meat hook, I simply roll out of it. Also I’m afraid of falling (heights don’t really bother me, but the falling sensation is the worst), and doing a triple salto involves lots of falling.

Good thing I have a few months to work on these moves! It’s good to have goals.

Girl Drama

I think that when a bunch of girls spend a lot of time together, drama is unavoidable. Now couple that with an athlete’s natural competitiveness, and that seems to be the situation that a bunch of the girls at the studio have found themselves in.

Personally, it takes a lot to get me flustered. I’m pretty laid back, and my competitive side is easily silenced. So, I am not directly involved in the current studio drama, but one of my closest hammock friends is.

Kairos had a student (I’ll call her Missy) that has recently opened her own studio. The types of classes Missy offers and the format of those classes are very similar to what Kairos has to offer. Missy’s studio is only about ten minutes away from Kairos, so it is direct competition. To add insult to injury, lots of Kairos students have decided to teach for Missy. My friend is one of the new teachers.

On one hand I understand the general feeling of hurt and betrayal that the owner of Kairos feels. These are her students that she helped mold, and now they are leaving her, poaching other students, stealing business, and copying the system that she has developed.

On the other hand I understand Missy’s desire to create another studio. Cirque dance is a lot of fun, and it is gaining popularity. Now is the time to get into the business. Kairos has a successful business model and an established clientele, so why not copy it? And as for the students turned teachers, well it wasn’t like Kairos was going to hire them.

As you can imagine, there is a lot of animosity between the two studios. Even vendors seem to be picking sides. For instance, one lady makes really cute headbands and sells them to both studios, but at Kairos she charges $5 each, and at Missy’s place, she charges $8.

My friend got let go from her job a few months ago, so to have this opportunity to get paid to teach what she loves to do was one that she didn’t want to pass up. It seems to me, though, that she has a bit of a conflict of interests: she continues to take classes from Kairos.

I totally understand this as well. The teachers at Kairos are wonderful! They are nice, supportive, and knowledgeable. They will continue to challenge my friend in a way that she wouldn’t get if she were to leave Kairos.

I don’t know… Maybe drama isn’t what you all wanted to hear about today. But it’s been on my mind a lot lately, and writing helps me to sort out my feelings. So thanks for listening. If you want, you can tell me in the comments your views/opinions of the warring studios.

I’ll leave you on a happy note. Here is one of my other aerialist friends and her victory. Lindsey has been taking hammock for three years, and this move has always eluded her. It’s called a cross-back handstand because after you invert, you cross the fabric behind your back. This is what allows you to rest upside down (like a handstand) in the hammock. It is tricky because while your hands are busy trying to cross the fabric, the squeezing of your inner thighs is the only thing holding you up. As you can imagine, it is easy to slip down and not have enough room to cross the fabric and extend your arms. It has many variations, and we were practicing one of them in class the other night. Something in me felt like I should record Lindsey give it yet another try:

It’s not perfect, and it’s not especially pretty ( a new trick is first about actually doing it and then making it beautiful later), but this is what progress looks like!

“1999” by Prince

All of a sudden, my back just stopped hurting. I don’t know how I got so lucky, but I’m super grateful!

I had one night to practice my full routine, and it just wasn’t going well. There is a part in my dance where I stand up in the fabric and make a square shape, and I kept slipping out of it during practice. But I nailed it during the performance! The lighting in my video isn’t great, but oh well. So, without further ado, here I am performing to “1999” by Prince:

Lower Back Injury

Let me set the scene for you. At my parents’ house, there is an unfinished portion in the basement. If the space was finished, I think it’s supposed to be a short hallway and two bedrooms each with their own walk-in closet. Take a look at my (dis-proportioned) floor plan below. The dotted lines are where walls would go, if the space was completed. But they don’t actually exist right now. The light gray words are what that space would be, while the black words are what the space is actually used for.

Floor plan

Even though it is unfinished, it still serves many functions including storage (mostly), dungeonous guest bedroom (it’s cold and dark), indoor driving range (left by the previous owners), beer pong room, and my sewing area.

I love to sew quilts. This hobby is one that I don’t share with anyone outside my family and close friends. I’m not sure why I don’t tell everyone about it. Maybe because it seems like an ‘old lady’ thing to do.

Anyway, my parents started to paint the basement a few months ago, so when they had to move decorations and furniture, it all went into the unfinished portion, and the room got all junky and dysfunctional for pretty much everything except storage space.

Here is another scene for you: My bedroom at my parents’ house is fairly small. There is only room for a bed and a dresser. Not functional for a college student with lots of homework. So a few years ago, I had a special loft bed made. It’s like a bunk bed, but instead of a lower bunk, there is a desk and work area. Best purchase I’ve ever made.

Then over the summer, I moved into my first apartment, and I didn’t need the big loft bed. So I left it at my parents’ house. Over the past weekend, my mom did what all parents do to their moved-out children’s bedrooms: made it into a functioning guest bedroom.

I helped, of course, but that meant lots of hard labor. My dad and I dismantled my loft bed, brought it down (two flights of stairs) to the unfinished room, and then replaced it with the regularly-sized bedroom furniture from the dungeon.

With all this furniture moving, I began to get really annoyed with how cluttered my sewing area was, and I decided to come back soon to reorganize that room, and make it more functional.

By now I bet you’re asking how this applies to my aerial hammock. I’m getting there. I was moving two filing cabinets and one large shelf from the bottom right corner of the floor plan to the top left corner, and somehow hurt my lower back.

I can sit, stand, and lay down comfortably as long as I don’t try to move. Also I can twist and bend backward easily, but as soon as I bend forward, the pain nearly takes my breath away! I’m hoping I’ll start to feel better in time for my performance on Saturday.

Speaking of which, I finally got it all choreographed last Friday, but it still looks pretty rough. Due to work and other obligations this week, I’m afraid I will only have one more practice session before I perform.

Aerial Hammock Safety

I fell out of my hammock. It’s not the first time, and I’m sure it won’t be the last time. Luckily, every time I’ve fallen, I haven’t been seriously injured. The worst injury I’ve gotten from hammock was a gnarly fabric burn from my elbow to my armpit (a close second place goes to the matching scars I have behind my knees, also from a fabric burn). Burns, bruises, callouses, and sore muscles are all just occupational hazards to an aerialist, but that doesn’t mean we go seeking out injuries.

A lot of thought goes into an apparatus’ rigging. In fact, the rigging is where the safety (or danger) starts. For instance, when searching for a spot to hang your hammock, you have to think about the strength of the ceiling beam (or tree branch, or whatever it is that you’ll be hanging from). Then when you climb the ladder to get to that point, the ladder should be a certain degree of incline (and that exact number escapes me).

Your sling or webbing (like rope, but stronger) and your carabiner needs to be of rock climbing-grade quality and able to hold around 1,000 lbs. Here’s why: of course, one or even two or three people, don’t weigh 1,000 pounds, but when you do drops, you have to get all physics-y. Newton’s second law to be precise. The mass of an object multiplied by the speed it travels while falling means that when that object finally lands, they “weigh” more than they would just standing still (please forgive my simplistic explanation of this math/physics; I’m an English/communications person).

So you see that this is more than just something pretty. It’s scientific, and as the sport changes and gets even more crazy, our equipment must also evolve.

Here is the best part about falling out of the hammock this time: it was caught on camera! Many of the aerialists feel that a camera should always be rolling so that it captures all of the fails, happy-success-dances, and the other craziness that goes on. Then we’ll create a blooper reel. Well here is my contribution to that project one day:

I was hoping to land at the bottom of the hammock in my hips. I need to grab my legs more to avoid falling out. I’ll definitely be fiddling with this move until I know for sure whether or not it could actually work.

I’ve learned of a performance coming up in just four days. A friend asked me to perform at her studio’s grand opening. I don’t have time to put together a whole new routine, so I’ll just use an old one.

I’m going to go ahead and do the Winter Wonderland show for Bella Me Pole. It doesn’t have a theme really, I have free reign of what I can do, it just needs to be under four minutes long.

Onyx is having a charity event show in February. It will be Disney themed. I think I’m going to do a group performance based on the villains. I’ll be portraying Ursula, so that’s exciting.

But before I get ahead of myself, I still need to finish choreographing my Prince routine that I’m supposed to perform in nine days.

Halloween Aerial Hammock Performance

Well here is my Hallow-scream performance. “Black Magic Woman” by Carlos Santana. Enjoy!

Now I have about two weeks to finish choreographing my Prince routine and get it to look smooth and beautiful!

Also, I have learned of another performance coming up. It is a Winter Wonderland themed show at a studio called Bella Me Pole (the dance studio is also a tattoo shop, SLC Ink, where I’ve had most of my work done). I’m not sure if my fellow hammock aerialists will want to do this one because it’s hard to be in training mode during the holidays (let’s be honest, it’s hard to be even a tiny bit disciplined during this time of year), but maybe that’s what makes me want to perform in this one even more.

Aerial hammock isn’t one of the most popular forms of cirque dance, so when I get a chance to go to a different studio and show off how cool it is, I want to take that chance. Then to (probably) be the only one performing on that apparatus would be even more special. I’ll think about it some more and post here when I decide whether or not to participate in this one.

For my teaching update: I haven’t taught again since my first time. Bummer. I don’t think Studio 22 was ready to open when it did. They don’t have a website or any social media pages. The studio hours are erratic and there isn’t a place for the students to sign up for classes. In fact, I’m not sure if there is even a student-body; when I taught that class of kids, they were the owner’s kids and their friends. I haven’t even met any other teachers, if, in fact, there are any. I think there were a lot of things to deal with (like red tape things) than the owner expected, and that’s why it is taking so long to get things up and running smoothly.

Today is Thursday, so I’m technically supposed to be teaching tonight, but it will probably be cancelled. If so, that’s ok. I have a lot of work to do to get ready for the next show! Happy Halloween!

The Promised Contortion Pictures

My computer stopped being sassy, so now I am able to show you all the contortion pictures I promised in the last post. But first! I want to talk about my very first time teaching hammock, because it happened!

I taught a class of kids mostly. They were all pretty eager, as children usually are about anything, so that was a fun time. There were about eight people in class, which was a good size. Teaching here was different than I’d expected; at Kairos, the teacher demonstrates while the students watch and then the students try. At Studio 22, everyone tries to do the move at the same time as me. For now, I guess that’s ok when I’m just doing simple things, but I foresee a time with more advanced tricks that it will have to change. I was supposed to teach Wednesday nights and Saturday mornings, but I think that will change to just Thursday nights. That means I’m teaching again tonight! I can’t wait!

Ok, now for the Gumby pictures:

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My back is pretty naturally flexible, but I have seen some improvement during my time with bendy. My legs are definitely a work in progress. I’ve seen major improvements in that area. My favorite thing to work on is middle splits. I thought I would hate them, but I find it to be the most rewarding.

Here are a couple of other cool things I wanted to post today:

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The first picture is called a jade split. It is one of my favorite moves to do on hammock, but it is an adapted pole move. I was really excited to learn it on pole one Sunday morning (my splits are flatter on the hammock though). The second picture is another pole move that was adapted for hammock, it is called a spatchcock (and I have yet to do it on pole). “Spatchcock” is a cooking term used to refer to a chicken (or other poultry) that has had its backbone (and perhaps its sternum, too) removed. With this description, you can imagine how wonderful it feels to get into this pose (sarcasm doesn’t translate well in text, but that last sentence was dripping with it).

And the last thing I want to post for the day is a video I made last semester for another class. I had to create a training video, so here is what I created: