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You Look Constipated in the Air – 6 Ways to Get Things Movin’!

 

Baruch Bash 2012 So, Dear Danglers, I’m sitting here drinking a gallon of coffee (Magic Elixir of Life), and watching my guilty pleasure: “The Sing Off”. Oh, how I love it! It pushes every cheesy musical button I have. Anyhoo, as I was watching this morning, I was struck yet again by the difference between artists who perform with their whole soul, and those bobble heads who look like they fell out of a Miss Universe pageant (Constipated Performers). Give me authentic and raw verses slick and sanitized any day! So, how do you avoid looking like you need a Metamucil IV stat? Re-think your goals.

 

Your Goal in Class is Probably Wrong

When you first begin your training, the emphasis is on learning foundational technique, broadening your movement vocabulary, getting stronger, and trying not to fall down. As you gain strength, confidence, and learn how to straighten your supporting leg (STRAIGHTEN YOUR DAMNED SUPPORTING LEG!!!), many of you begin to place the emphasis on cramming your head full of as many new moves as you can. WRONG! Let new moves be the “spice” of class, but the meat and potatoes should be cultivating your own style in the air. You can’t begin too early with this! Once you’re working comfortably and confidently in a move, your next question is, “How do I make this MINE?” There is only ONE YOU, and please believe me when I say that the world does not need any more aerial automatons.


Tweet: Let new aerial moves be the “spice” of class, but the meat and potatoes should be cultivating your own style in the air.


6 Ways to Loosen Things Up

  1. What do you like? How does YOUR body like to move? What feels good? What looks good? Are you “liquid” in your movements? Sharp? Flexible? Strong? Start answering these, and you have a great place to start.
  2. Now, PLAY! Some of the best advice I ever got (thank you, Vladimir Chvalbo!) was to take a move – ANY move – and see how many ways you can play in it. Bring yourself up, down, sideways, backwards, left, right – PLAY.
  3. Work that tempo! Nothing screams snooze-fest more than an artist who only moves at one speed. We ALL have to fight against this – it’s comfy to work at “our” tempo all the time! Vary that rhythm, friend – shake it up! (… and down, and UP, and down, JAZZ HANDS! TURN TURN STEP KICK SHIMMY BAM!!!!!…. ahem. Sorry – accidental dance break…)
  4. What do YOU have to say? What are you expressing with your body right now? Doesn’t have to be all angst and underpants, it can be joy, freedom, desire, melancholy, fierceness – anything! Start playing a bit with bringing the inside out. (WARNING: this takes some bravery and vulnerability, so start small if you’re nervous! Instead of “crushing defeat”, maybe try “a little disappointed”. Instead of “I want to rip your clothes off”, try “call me maybe”. You get the idea.)
  5. Dance like nobody’s watching! We can get REALLY hung up on not wanting to look stupid. I get that!!! But being free from the good opinion of others is like a muscle that needs to be worked out. Take tiny creative risks – move your arm or leg, roll your head, etc. Little by little, you’ll get braver and braver. Today? An arm sweep. Tomorrow? The world. (note: if you’re in a class that isn’t supportive of creativity – teacher or students – find a new class. Your teacher is there to keep you safe and teach you good technique, not squash your creative soul.) 
  6. Video yourself! You’ll never know if that hair-ography is doing you proud unless you video! Always ask your teacher (different instructors have different policies), and remember – your classmates are your classmates, not your personal videographers. When you watch yourself, remember – BE GENTLE WHILE YOU’RE BEING HONEST. You’re trying out new stuff, and being very brave. Make a note of what doesn’t work, and focus on what does. Now, do more of the latter!

 It’s the best thing in the world to see someone working from their soul as a completely unique individual. Some folks fall into this naturally, but most of us have to work damned hard at that kind of performance or approach. So start where you’re comfortable, and then sneak a toe outside that comfort zone. You’ll be glad you did (and so will your audience). Baby steps, ya’ll! Love and pull-ups, Laura

Here’s what got me going this morning. Wait till they “take it to church”!

 

 
 

 

As always, if you like this post, share it on your blog, the F-books, Twitter, and wherever else you crazy kids are sharing things these days.

 

Green Machine Soup for Aerial Power!

Hello Dear Danglers! It’s coooooooold here in NYC, and cold = soup! This is what’s for lunch today at Casa Witwer, and I thought you guys might enjoy it too. It’s nice and light, and has yummy greens to decrease inflammation (common in folks who pursue physical awesomeness). It’s really simple, too! Enjoy! Love and pull-ups, Laura

 

Green Machine Soup Recipe (scale up or down as you like!)

  • 2 cups stock (any kind)
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 2 handfulls of spinach
  • a splash of balsamic vinegar to taste
  • salt & pepper (or, I use Trader Joe’s Everything Seasoning – YUM)

Put everything in a pot, simmer until tender. Sprinkle with hemp and/or sesame seeds if you like and serve!

 

  

 

As always, if you like this post, share it on your blog, the F-books, Twitter, and wherever else you crazy kids are sharing things these days.

 

From Drabulous to Fabulous! The INFINITY Dress!

My infinity dress!

Hello Dear Danglers! If you’re like me, you start to feel a bit frumpty-dumpty running around in training clothes every blessed day. I try to sew fun stuff on Saturdays, and today I found this free tutorial for the Infinity Dress – a stretch knit dress you can wear 20+ ways! It’s so stinking easy, I can’t take it. It’s also super versatile! Wear it over leggings & a long sleeved T and it’s great for winter, too. Here’s a link to the tutorial (sign up for her emails if you sew – they’re AWESOME!!!), and a video showing oodles of ways to tie the dress. Have fun! Let me know what you make! 🙂 Love and pull-ups, Laura

 

**UPDATE – this is also a great way to up-cycle old stretchy silks! Just did it with my blue one and it works great. WIN!

 

Tutorial Link: CLICK HERE
 
 

As always, if you like this post, share it on your blog, the F-books, Twitter, and wherever else you crazy kids are sharing things these days.

 

New Years Revolution

Dear Danglers, I LOVE making New Years resolutions. Love it. I dream big, and New Years has always seemed like the perfect time of year to construct lofty, towering goals for myself. Take flamenco lessons? Check. Institute Family Game Night? Check. Get my Flying Ass Grinder on the German wheel? ….. hmmm….. well, I can make that goal, but what happens if my wheel and/or body doesn’t cooperate? How do I establish realistic goals in my training without setting myself up for disappointment or harsh self-criticism if I try hard, but don’t make them?
 

A Different Approach This Year

I can easily tackle things that are within my control (1. Stop eating pie for breakfast. 2. Do not put the Brita back in the fridge empty. 3. Do not cut your bangs when you’re angry.), but training this year is going to require a different approach. I jumped into German wheel assuming it would be easy for me – after all, I’m reasonably muscle-y, have a great sense of my strengths & weaknesses, am somewhat flexible, etc. Turns out, success in wheel depends on exactly none of those things. As my (long-suffering) coach can tell you, because of my unrelenting focus on “goals” in the traditional sense, I’ve had something of a rough go of it. I beat myself up and frequently sob, “But I should be faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarther than this! How is it possible that I suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck so much?” Then, inevitably, he winds up with snot on his shirt, and I have an emotional hangover the next day. Perhaps there’s another way?
 

Meaningful Goals – How We’re Doing It This Year

Instead of focusing exclusively on where we want to go, maybe it’s time to give equal attention to where we’ve been. That push and pull of past and future helps us to keep our perspective on the days our leggings get wrapped around the trapeze, or our thigh fat gets caught when we’re doing a drop. Try this:

 

  • What can you do now that you couldn’t do this time last year?
  • Do you have a favorite training or class memory from this year? What really stands out?
  • Whenever you have a success, write it down. Date, move, how it felt.
  • Now, NOW, you can write your goals.

 
I see you struggling with this too, Dear Dangler. I watch you wrestle with your (fill in the blank) – getting it one week, losing it the next, or just working to get off the ground. I watch you fly through early training, then hit the wall in a certain area. I watch you thinking you have it all figured out, until you see the next level looming and realize you might not be the hot sh*t you thought you were. I see the thought written all over your face: I should be able to DO this! I thought I would be farther! I keep trying, but I’m just stuck! WHEN WILL I BE AWESOME?????” But we often forget how far we’ve come. When reaching for the stars starts feeling like getting a root canal, it’s time to get some perspective, friends. Remember how far you’ve come, and let it whisper softly in your ear….”gravity is for suckas…..” 😉 Love and pull-ups, Laura
 
 

 
 

 

As always, if you like this post, share it on your blog, the F-books, Twitter, and wherever else you crazy kids are sharing things these days.

 

Ring-a-Ding-Ding! The Posts That Had You Talking in 2013!

Hello Dear Danglers! Just for funzies (and because we’re all snot factories over here – Happy New Year), I thought it might be fun to take a quick trip down memory lane. Here are the top posts that had you guys all fired up, with your knickers in a twist, or both in 2013!

  1. Why YOU Want to Be More of a Tight Ass – Essential Stability for Aerial Arts
  2. Get a Grip! 5 Ways to Improve Hand Strength
  3. … and The Ultimate Hand Warm-up!
  4. C is for Cookie – The Ultimate Aerial Diet
  5. Defensive Much? Learning from Criticism
  6. Rigging From Trees: Magical or Moronic?
  7. The Great Boobie Caper: Aerial Necklines
  8. … and Part 2!
  9. 5 Ways to Bounce Your Booty Back Faster After a Break
  10. The pregnancy series! Trimester 1 , Trimester 2, Trimester 3!

 

I didn’t write this in 2013, but I’m going to include it anyway since it caused quite the stir. 😉 Workin’ Cheap: How Shortsighted Ninnies are Ruining our Profession, and Part 2!

So, let’s welcome this new year by celebrating the insanely awesome (and sometimes questionable) things we can do! Enjoy! Love and pull-ups, Laura
 

 

 

As always, if you like this post, share it on your blog, the F-books, Twitter, and wherever else you crazy kids are sharing things these days.

 

My Holiday Giftie to YOU!

Hello Dear Danglers! I just wanted to wish you all a VERY happy holiday season, whatever you celebrate! Here is my gift to you (I remember the 80’s, this stuff really happened… on a regular basis). So, Merry Christmas, (belated) Happy Hannukah, Blessed Yule, Peaceful Solstice, Happy Pancha Ganapati, Joyous Kwanzaa, and Warm Winter Wishes for you and your people! I love you and am grateful for you EVERY DAY!!!! 🙂 Love and pull-ups, Laura
 

 

 

 

As always, if you like this post, share it on your blog, the F-books, Twitter, and wherever else you crazy kids are sharing things these days.

 

Laura’s List of Aerial Silk Moves

You asked, I answered! Dear Students, HERE is my list of silk moves! It’s a work in progress, so if you see moves that aren’t listed that we’ve done in class, give me a holler! You’ll need Evernote on your computer or phone to access the list (don’t worry – it’s free!). Love and pull-ups, Laura

 

PS – you’ll notice I didn’t include instructions? If you want to know what the heck these are, get to class! 😉

 


 

Laura’s List of Aerial Silk Moves

 


As always, if you like this post, share it on your blog, the F-books, Twitter, and wherever else you crazy kids are sharing things these days.

 

Why YOU Want to be More of a Tight Ass – Essential Stability for Aerial Arts

Stayin’ tight with the Baby Janes! Photo by Kenneth Feldman, www.pfdigital.com

Dear Dangler, do you consider yourself a tight-ass? I hope so! There’s a certain amount of essential tension necessary for fabulousness in aerial and circus arts. If you’re flopping around up there like an overcooked spaghetti noodle, it’s time to tighten that sh*t up.

What is “Tightness”?

When my coaches first began barking, “Tighten up! Stay tight!”,  I clenched everything (and I do mean everything) and hoped for the best. But what I grew to understand is a) tightening EVERYTHING leads to you looking awkward and constipated on your apparatus and b) “tight” is not the same as “rigid”.

 

Staying tight means keeping muscles active and firm at about 50% power. For example, let your arm flop. Now, tighten your bicep REALLY HARD (make a “muscle”). Now, relax to about halfway. That’s tight.

 

Why Tension is Important

Try this: find a friend with a two year-old. Wait until the toddler is good and pissed off (if they’re two, you won’t have to wait long). Now – try to pick them up. THEY ARE SO HEAVY!!!!! 25 pounds never felt so hard to lift! Now – try to pick them up again when they are calm and amenable to being lifted. See how much lighter? Tension, people. That boneless-ness creates the experience of a noticeable increase in weight.

 

Without a certain amount of tension, you’re going to feel like you’re hauling around a lot of dead weight; eeeeeeeverything becomes more difficult (and your lines look le poo). While some muscles are lying around on the beach in Aruba sipping pina coladas, other muscles are trying to (literally) pick up the slack. Before they start picketing for better working conditions, you’re going to want to start redistributing the labor.

 

Viagra-vate It!

Fear not – tension is a habit! Try this:

 

  • at least one session of Pilates mat work every week (for oodles of free videos, check out www.hulu.com!) Pilates cultivates the exact type of resistance-free tension we’re trying to produce. It’s also great for helping you find the muscles you’re supposed to be using.
  • reeeeeeach (“peripheral” tightness)! Think of being pulled in different directions. For example, I am hanging upside down in my fabric. My free hand is reeeeeeeeeaching towards the ground. My leg is reeeeeeeeeaching for the back wall. If an appendage is floating free, it should be reeeeeeeeeeeaching (try not to get jazz hands, though). 😉
  • lock and load! Bits of your body that are bearing weight (bent knee, stabilizing arm, etc) should be nice and tight! Remember not to hyper-extend your joints, but this is a time for very “active” tightness.
  • zip up your abs! Abs should always be firmly engaged (“core” tightness). Bring your navel to your spine and hold your tummy firm – pretend Ian Somerhalder just walked into the room and you’re in a bikini.

 

Now, for a supremely insane example of tighness: behold, the Ukranians! Watch how they keep that tension, even when folding themselves in half backwards. You know, like ya do. Love and pull-ups, Laura
 

 

As always, if you like this post, share it on your blog, the F-books, Twitter, and wherever else you crazy kids are sharing things these days.

 

Shake Shake Shake, Shake…. Your Feet?! Nope.

 

Isabel & Emily in foot knots they will get out of without kicking!

Many thanks to the endlessly sassy Miz Cathy Gauch from Aircat Aerial Arts (get over there the next time you’re in Boulder, CO!) for the inspiration for this post!

Apparently, there’s an aerial instructional video floating around in which the instructor encourages students to just “shake their feet” to come out of their foot knots. After I finished having a seizure, I thought maybe we should talk about this! Now, to be fair, I haven’t seen said video, but I DO know what I see around town: shake shake SHAKE KICK KICK KICK FLAIL! Now, unless you are being electrocuted, there is zero reason for you to be so spastic – you’ve got other (more glamorous) options, friend!

Figure 8 Foot Knots

Tied one at a time, this is the first foot knot many of us learn. Coming out cleanly is simple! Simply flex your feet, lift them up, move them back, and point your toes. Observe!

 

 

If you’re stuck and panicking, you can also use your other foot to pop the fabric off the toe (but save it for emergencies – it’s not your sassiest moment).

 

Aerial Dance Wrap

Wrapped together, this knot is great for getting lovely, even splits. To come out cleanly, simply lift your feet 2-5 inches (just enough to take the pressure off the heels – DON’T lift too high!), point your toes, and slide your feet forward and down.

 

 

Seriously? That’s IT. No need to flail, shake, kick, twerk, twitch, convulse, flap, shudder, oscillate, or combust. Just lift and send your feet in the appropriate direction! I know some of you have other snazzy ways of getting out of foot knots that you love. Hey – as long as it doesn’t involve an aerial seizure, go on with your bad selves! 😉  Hope you’re having a swingin’ holiday season so far, Dear Danglers!!!!! Love and pull-ups, Laura

 

 

PS – By the way! I hope you’ll join me in welcoming the FABULOUS  and talented Miss Rebecca Collins to the SassyPants Aerial Arts team! Rebecca will be helping me answer emails, get ya’ll scheduled into classes, and all sorts of other good things. Welcome welcome, Miss Rebecca!!!!!!