Category Archives: Uncategorized

Help! The Fabrics Ate My Shirt!

Goodbye, shirt! Thank goodness this was a one-time thing, and that Yechiel is a super-safe student.

Goodbye, shirt! Thank goodness this was a one-time thing, and that Yechiel is a super-safe student.

One of the most frustrating moments in a class is when, after executing a lovely Plummeting Whore or Crap-tastic rolldown, the fabric eats your shirt.

“Wretched fabric!” you shriek. “Why why WHY???!!!!”

Well, because you fed it.

Please Don’t Feed the Fabric

It’s a toughie, right? You want to put on a T-shirt with sleeves for armpit-catching drops, but you don’t want to wind up dangling by a knot on your back. What to do, what to do? Fear not, friend – you’ve got options.

  • Choose a sleeved unitard or leotard with leggings. This is the best way to avoid getting caught, but not necessarily the most fashionable. That said, you won’t be performing in a t-shirt – get used to it!
  • Go up, not down. Instead of trying to slide below the knot, straddle back to an invert, arch through to a straight-legged bird’s nest, or do a nice pull-up and draw your knees to your chest. Any of these should get the fabric to release.
  • Lean out. If your forearms are toast, try this: wrap your feet securely, grab one pole, and bring your opposite arm forward between the silks. Now, reeeeeeach forward (no “forward” = caught in the knot, so don’t be half-assed here).
  • Tie up your boobies. If you’re doing crap-tastic rolldowns (aka “windmills” or “cartwheels”), and you insist on wearing a shirt, pull it up and tie it under your charms.

 

Getting Caught is Up to You

While I have oodles of sympathy for the unexpected ruined shirt, I have to tell you – a bad “binding” can be super stressful for teachers. Depending on the rigging situation in your studio, getting you down can be an ordeal if you can’t get yourself free, putting you in a crummy (read: potentially dangerous) situation and eating up class time. If you find yourself trussed up like a turkey on a regular basis, you are giving your poor teacher premature gray hairs. Quit it. Put on your sassiest leggings, grab a snazzy leotard, and get going! Love and pull-ups, Laura
 
 

 

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Home Aerial Rigs of Your Very Own!

In the spirit of full disclosure, I’m being lazy today and letting someone else essentially write my post for me. BUT, many (many many) of you have written and asked for info on this topic, so everyone wins!

The following is a PDF excerpt from the book “Rigging: Essentials for Aerialists” by Steven Santos, which I think is an excellent resource and I highly recommend for all aerialists and aerial students – get it here. In the meantime, dig in! Love and pull-ups, Laura

Download the PDF here!
 

 

 

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Stop Kicking the Fabric. No – Really – Stop!

Hello Dear Danglers! Let’s chat about something that has made many an aerial instructor completely insane. Unless your fabric has done something truly unspeakable to you, don’t -I repeat don’t – kick it out of the way before completing an inversion. Is that kind of violence really necessary? I think not.

To invert with fabrics together, simply sweep the legs to one side and straddle back cleanly. When inverting with one fabric in each hand, stop – wait a minute. Hold your hands directly in front of your shoulders, and give the fabric just a second (or three) to part. If the fabric becomes tangled, and inverting with straight legs is not possible, bend the knees into a froggy-style invert.

It’s a simple fix, lovelies! Go forth, and invert like the powerful danglers you are!!! Love and pull-ups, Laura
 

 

 

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“I Am Surely About To Die” – Pre-Show Jitters and How to Cope

German Wheel Wishbone

 

Hello Dear Danglers! I’m writing in hopes that you may recognize a bit of this in your own pre-show musings, and realize that everyone – everyone – has moments of doubt, paralyzing terror  fear, and despair when it comes to doing what we love in front of Other People.

 

Terror Wheel

I’m currently in Chicago, preparing to compete in German Wheel national trials. If I don’t fall on my head (you laugh, but this is an alarmingly real possibility), I may do well enough to join Team USA in Italy in June to compete against top German wheelers from around the world – the thought makes me want to guffaw and barf all at the same time. See, this time, my performance has real consequences. Usually, the worst thing that happens with a crummy run is that my ego is bruised, but here – OMG – I WILL ACTUALLY, LITERALLY BE JUDGED BY PEOPLE SITTING BEHIND A TABLE SCORING MY WORK WITH POINTS! POINTS!!!!! Is that not the most horrifying thing you’ve ever heard? (#hyperbole) To say that this is producing a bit of anxiety in me is like saying that the Pope is a bit Catholic, or that my students are a bit sassy. It is the most astonishing amount of very real, very tangible fear. So, how will I make it through without crying copious quantities of hiccup-y tears? …. I don’t know.

 

What I DO Know

Different things work for different people at different times, and I don’t know what will be most useful in the coming days, but I DO have a little grab-bag of coping strategies! Here are a few that have kept me sane thus far.

  • Everyone wants you to succeed. Really. Your audience wants you to succeed! Even if you’re in competition with others, your competition does not really wish you ill (they just want to do better than you – it’s not the same thing). Imagine them all cheering you on, and watch for all the little “thumbs up” you find yourself seeing all over the place.
  • Staaaaaay present. I am the worst – the worst – at this. Anxiety is all about “futurizing” – projecting your fears into an imagined future. It’s not real. Remember – while this kind of thinking is encoded in your DNA (it was veeeeery helpful if you were a caveman on the savanna), it’s not going to help you now. Go google “how to stay present” and do all the things. All of ’em. Whatever it takes. 😉
  • Focus on others. It’s really hard to wind yourself up too much if you’re focused on others. How can you help? The more you can get your mind off yourself and onto serving, the less time you have to rev your engines and flood your body with more stress hormones!
  • Rally the troops! Call your people! Huddle with your show partner, post about your fear on social media, call your mom, whatever. People want to be there for you, so let them! Feel the love.
  • What’s the worst that could happen? Sometimes, this question has sobering answers (“You could land on your head”), but more often than not, the answers are more benign (“I will look like an idiot”). Try to really talk this through. “I will look like an idiot. OK, maybe people won’t look at me and go “she’s such an idiot”. It’s more likely that they will feel bad for me that I missed my trick – they know how that feels. I will be disappointed, but that’s treatable with ice cream. And, in five years, will this matter in my life in any real, meaningful way? Probably not. I will look back and be proud of myself for competing and doing my best.”
  • Try not to ruminate. Go – do whatever you have to do to break the cycle of winding yourself up. Go help someone, go jog, listen to music, watch “Real Housewives, etc.
  • Get spiritual. Pray, meditate, chant, twirl – whatever floats your spirit boat.
  • Everyone is feeling this way. Look around. See your fellow cast mates? Your competitors? Yeah – they’re right there with you. You are not alone.
  • Speak kindly to yourself. Fear is natural and healthy, and can clue you in to things you need to pay attention to, but don’t use this as a time to abuse yourself. Even as I write this, I hear, “You are going to humiliate yourself in front of so many people” We can be astonishingly cruel to ourselves! And, we can choose differently (note: it’s hard, and can feel like you’re lying. Takes practice, start now). I can change that to “I’ve trained hard, and I’m among friends. I choose to have an uplifting, amazing experience of competition.”
  • Be proud – you chose life. You chose to do the hard thing. You chose a big risk, with a big pay off. Just by choosing action – performance – over fear, you are winning big.

 

B&W slam wheelWelcome Home!

Pre-show “jitters” – doesn’t that sound innocuous? Almost like a candy (“One large bag of popcorn and a box of Jitters, please!”). But oh – when you’re in the throes of anxiety, you know there’s nothing cute or sweet about it – it tastes like pure misery.

What must we remember when we find ourselves here, staring wide-eyed into an unknowable future? You are not alone. In fact, you are now part of a remarkable tradition of courageous people, going back thousands of years. Think of the millions who have stood where you are, thinking the same thoughts, feeling the same smallness, hearing the rush of blood in their ears and wondering how they will survive the next ten minutes. We are a part of a legacy – part of a long tradition of People Who Chose to Really Live. Welcome to the tribe! Welcome home. Love and pull-ups, Laura
 
 

 

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Right! I Mean, Left! I Mean… Oh, Crap. Direction in Aerial Instruction

Jenna Kidney Squisher“Now, move towards the free leg. No, the free leg. NO, THE FREE %$*&#! LEG!!!!!”

“Bring your leg behind you. That’s in front of you.”

“OK, now reach your right hand down…. your other right…”

Conversations like this can be heard in every circus studio across the globe! It’s not just you. 😉 So, how do you make reliable sense of directions given in the air? Why do we get so darned stubborn about our understanding of orientation? See below. No, scroll down. OK – scroll up. Ugh – just keep reading.

The Student’s Challenge

When you’re learning a new move, particularly if it’s a brand new one, or if you’re new to circus, the whole process can  seem Entirely Overwhelming. Here are a few things that may help.

  • Work the position low and slow. If you are a student who routinely tries to place new things up high (*climbs up to the top* “OK, now what do I do?”), I want you to seriously rethink that choice. Not only is it a safety issue, but a) I don’t like hollering instructions up 15 feet, and b) you miss out on having the benefit of my hands to guide you through the move.
  • Stop, listen, and think. We often just want to move and try stuff, but if you stop for a second, really listen to what your coach is saying, and think it though, you’ll have better results (Hint: think more zen tortoise than chimpanzee on meth). One thing that helps me tremendously when I’m trying to master a new move is repeating the coach’s words back to myself. “Bring tails to poles, and key to the wrapped side”, “move towards the free leg, and continue the rotation”. You get the idea. Sometimes, just saying it out loud deciphers it in your brain.
  • Take the time to get familiar with your teacher’s particular orientation vocabulary. It’s kind of like learning a foreign language! It’s likely that you’ll hear key phrases again and again – once you’ve cracked the code, you’ll be fluent in this teacher’s “aerial-ese”.
  • Perception can be crazy subjective. BUT, some things are always the same! The front of your body is always the front of your body. Towards the floor is always the same direction (unless you are living in an alternate reality, in which case please disregard). This is more of that stopping and thinking business – just because you’re upside down doesn’t mean the floor becomes the ceiling or your front becomes your back!

The Teacher’s Challenge

Every student learns and hears things differently, so it’s a helluva challenge to come up with instructions that make sense to most of them, let alone all of them. A lot of verbal cuing is trial and error as you seek to find “magic phrases”, but here are a few things I’ve found helpful.

  • I personally shy away from directions of right and left, mainly because of the sheer chaos that ensues when they need to switch sides. I prefer using body or silk landmarks (“towards your free leg” or poles/tails).
  • If you are using a phrase repeatedly that’s just not getting the desired result, no matter how logical it is, the problem probably isn’t the student. 😉 True confession: I struggle with this so much! I find myself just saying the same thing over and over (and louder and LOUDER) as if I could just yell it into their bodies. Le sigh. The more ways we have to explain things, the better the chance they’ll understand.
  • The “tag” method. If it’s a particularly weird wrap with lots of go-here-then-go-there-and-wrap-this-and-flex-that, I position my hand so that the student has to tag my hand with the specified body part, thus (ideally) leading them through the move. Doesn’t work every time, but it can help.

 

Question time! Students – what verbal cuing do you find most useful? What frustrates you the most? Teachers – same question! What have you found that is particularly helpful in regards to direction? Where do you struggle? Post your comments below – let’s get a great conversation going!!!! Love and pull-ups, Laura

 

  

 

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30 Days to a Sassier Straddle – NEW and Improved!

Miss Hannah's gorgeous straddle!

Miss Hannah’s gorgeous straddle!

 

Hello Dear Danglers! You asked, I answered. Here is the NEW AND IMPROVED, very shiny, fancy, glittery 30 Days to a Better Straddle PDF! Enjoy! Love and pull-ups, Laura


Click here for all the stretchy, straddle-y goodness! 


 

 

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Your Nails and Jewelry Are Destroying the Apparatus

Pop Quiz!

This is a quickie today, Dear Danglers! Multiple choice pop quiz!

  1. Do you wear jewelry when you train? (watches, rings, belly-button rings, intimate piercings, etc.)
    • Yes – every damned day.
    • No – I remove the metal from my body before I train.
  2. Do you have long finger (or, gross) toe nails?
    • Yes – I love my long fingernails!
    • No – my nails might make a manicurist weep, but they’re great for aerial work.

 

GripAnswer Key

If you answered anything other than NO to the questions above, you are probably responsible for at least one tiny hole in my fabrics. Watches, rings with protrusions, and long nails frequently snag fabrics, interfere with grip, and get in the way of certain wraps. Necklaces can get caught and tighten painfully around the neck, belly button rings can tear out (I’ve seen it – it’s horrifying), earrings can tear out of lobes, and intimate piercings can, well, use your imagination. Ouch.

What’s fine? Plain rings (think wedding bands) with nothing that could snag the apparatus, and small stud earrings. Nails – toe and finger – are best kept short-ish. If you don’t want to take your belly button ring out (I get it!), cover it with athletic tape or something similar so it can’t get snagged. If you have intimate piercings, you may just have to bow out of certain moves, depending on the nature of the piercing and the move being contemplated.

So, play nicely with other people’s things! No jewelry + short nails = a happy coach! 🙂 Love and pull-ups, Laura

 

 

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The REAL V-Day – Taking Care of Your Lady Bits in Aerial Circus

Baby Janes Quad trapYour Furry Fun Patch and the Aerial World: A Primer

If you’ve ever gotten (ahem) really, really close to your apparatus (“that fabric owes me dinner!”), or encountered a surprise steel bar where you’re pretty sure it ought not be, today’s post will be near and dear to your… heart. Also? Let’s see how many euphemisms we can come up with for lady parts!

First, circus has nothing on 50 Shades of Gray. I can attest to being 50 shades of purple, blue, red, and yellow, and I didn’t even get a private helicopter out of the deal. Those bruises, abrasions, and ouchies aren’t limited to polite places like arms and legs – oh no. Your dewy nether-regions are fair game! So, let’s dive face-first into the wonderful world of Aerial Gynecology!

What Could Go Wrong?

Circus means doing some crazy sh*t with some wild apparatus. A number of moves will involve fabric, rope, or a metal bar sitting veeeery close to your passion purse. These sensitive membranes should be treated with an extra helping of respect and protection! This list is by no means exhaustive, but here are a few things you may encounter on a semi-regular basis. Unless you want to totally ruin your weekend, it helps to be prepared.

  • Labial abrasions – if you’ve ever had one, you neeeeeever want another! A labial abrasion is a small abrasion, sore, burn, or scratch on the outer labia caused by friction or tugging by the apparatus. This can be outside on the furry bits, or (way worse) inside on the mucous membrane. (** Not labial, but I’m lumping it in here anyway: a common spot for small skin fissures or abrasions is right at the top of your butt crack. See atomic wedgie below.)
  • Bruising/soreness on the vulva or inner thighs – exactly what it sounds like.
  • Yeast infections – you + sweaty leotard for several hours a day = Monistat
  • Bladder infections – nope nope nope. Just so unpleasant.
  • Atomic wedgies – these are often hilarious for your classmates, but not so fun for you. Especially if you get an abrasion or soreness from it.

 

General Care and Protection of Your Twinkle

To keep your hoo-hoo happy (that one’s for you, Bobby Hedglin), keep the following in mind.

  1. Exercise an extra bit of care when positioning apparatus near your intimate folds. There’s a sweet spot (no, not that one) you want to aim for between the vulva and the inner thigh, which accommodates many moves. You can also squeeze your butt cheeks nice and tight to create a natural “no-go zone” of protection against atomic wedgies.
  2. Coconut oil or another unscented, very plain oil can be really useful in easing the discomfort of skin splits or abrasions. Remember – no scented stuff near your delicate flower.
  3. If you’re prone to yeast infections, you have a lot of options. First, get it diagnosed and treated STAT. For prevention, what works for one woman may not work for another. Hit the basics, like making sure your under-britches are 100% cotton, and that you’re not hanging out in a sweaty crotch situation a minute longer than necessary – even if that means changing training clothes mid-day. If that doesn’t work, have a look at your diet (google anti-candida diet), your birth control (certain pills, spermicides, and lube can upset the balance of flora or pH in the vagina), and your partner (especially if he’s uncircumcised, he may be passing candida back to you). Ain’t yeast a party?
  4. Don’t douche or spray it with stuff – you will make your love canyon unhappy. It’s self cleaning, and an irritated pleasure garden doesn’t mix well with aerial work (or anything else, for that matter).
  5. If you find yourself getting fun vaginal or bladder infections frequently, your first order of business is to ditch your bacterial super-highway thong. I don’t love thongs for day-to-day aerial work (give to me ALL the granny panties!!!!). That said, if you love ’em, go nutz! But if infections set in, it’s a place to start.
  6. Don’t wax on aerial day. Your first full Brazilian should not correspond with your first lyra class.

 

In closing, do everything you can to keep your snatch sassy and happy. Have a GREAT Valentine’s Day, and I love love love you guys!!!!! Love and pull-ups, Laura

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Are You Ready To Go Pro?

Hello, Dear Danglers! This week I have such a treat for you – the FABULOUS Allison Williams! Enjoy!


 Are You Ready to Go Pro?

GripIt finally happened. Someone clicked the contact button on your brand-new website and asked you to come perform at their event. This is it—the big time. Your teacher has finally said, “Yeah, that act is ready to perform.” You’ve joined some Facebook groups that talk about professional practices; you’re up to date on Laura’s blog. And you’ve noticed, Hey! Professional rates are pretty high! I’m gonna make bank! Or at least finally pay myself back for the thousands of dollars I’ve spent on training…

Whoa, Sparkle-Party! Don’t throw that triple yet!

It’s true, there’s a substantial push in the aerial “industry” for charging appropriate professional fees. Being aware of the going price, not undercutting your fellow performers, and being willing to say to a client, “That’s what aerial entertainment costs. I’m sorry you can’t afford me.”

But are you ready to be in that price range? Are you, in fact, a professional? Find out with this simple quiz!

TRUE or FALSE?

  • You know the market rate for different types of event, and you’re comfortable asking for it. You can assess the non-cash value of certain performing situations.
  • You own your own equipment and rigging. If you offer a particular act, you own all necessary equipment to execute that act.
  • You are comfortable rigging in a variety of situations (ceiling points, exposed beams, freestanding rigs). Even if you don’t rig your own equipment, you are able to judge whether a rigging situation is safe.
  • You can adapt your act to a variety of heights, moods, themes and performance lengths. You know when to say, “Sorry, that act won’t fit, I’m out.” Or, “Sorry, that act won’t fit, how about this other act?” Or, “I don’t do that act, but Cindy-Lou does, why don’t I put you in touch with her?”
  • You can guard your own safety at the event by being kind but firm about what un-contracted extras you are willing/not willing to do. You are flexible and try to give the client value for money. You will sometimes do un-contracted extras that are safe and a minimum of hassle, or in exchange for something else that was contracted.
  • You don’t ask if your friends can come to the event.
  • You own costumes suitable for varying levels of formality, and can adapt to many themes or color schemes. You have a list of your measurements that can be provided by hitting ‘reply’ when the costume person asks for your measurements, rather than four days later after you go buy a tape measure.
  • You own necessary accessories/consumables like rosin, tape, dance belt, theatrical makeup, hairspray, and clean, modest, whole cover-up/warm-up clothing.
  • You have a hairstyle that works with your costume, the theme and the act, and you can do your hair in the time allotted. You have a makeup look that suits your act, is visible from the audience, and stays put.
  • Your warm-up adapts to the available space and cleanliness of the warm-up area.
  • You know not to hand your own card to the client and you know why. You know not to talk to the client unless you are there alone or you are the designated person who talks to the client.
  • You have a short, “agent-friendly” (no contact info) video clip when someone needs to show you to the client before booking or for performer approval. In the clip, you are wearing a costume and performing a routine.

 

BONUS: You are able to smile at the client and say “of course!” when they ask if you “do that thing where you wrap up and come down real fast.”

11-12 TRUE: Congratulations, you’re ready to ask for professional rates in exchange for your professional-caliber performance!

Less than 11: Sorry, you still have some things to learn!

 

The good news: these aren’t difficult to learn. If you’re not ready yet, start putting in the time. Ask professional performers if you can come to a gig as a stage manager or gofer, be genuinely useful, and watch how they work. Ask your school for performance opportunities where you can go as an intern or junior performer, and work on someone else’s equipment and wear someone else’s costume while you learn how to do the job. If you’re young enough to work for crap pay, apply for an official internship.

Start saving up for costumes and equipment. Take a rigging workshop. Practice makeup in the mirror (that’s the fun one!). Next time you’re in a student show, make sure you get good video from a couple of angles. Ask your teachers about their most recent performances. Role-play responding to client requests, reasonable and unreasonable (it doesn’t feel dumb when you do it in the car).

Most of all, be brave about being ignorant. If you see something you don’t understand, ask (privately, politely, and after the gig). Read online discussions. Listen more than you talk. Be humble. Be helpful. We—your fellow aerialists—want you to learn these things. We want you to be professional. It makes us all look better.

Allison Williams is the Artistic Director of Aerial Angels. (www.angelsintheair.com)

 

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The Sound of… Silence? What Can You do About Aerial Queefing?

Ghetto StrapsOh yes, I absolutely am going there.

A lovely Dear Dangler recently sent me this query, and I wanted to throw this out to you, Hive Mind.


Queef: noun: an expulsion of air through the vagina.


 

“I am stressed and embarrassed about doing straddle inverts, as well as other general invert moves.

The problem is that with the damage from my pregnancy when I invert my organs move down towards my head causing a vacuum and sucking in air, caused the dreaded queef.

I love silks, it is my joy at the moment but I was so mortified the first time it happened.  I don’t know if anyone else has noticed, but I am constantly stressed about it. 

Do you have any recommendations to help solve the problem???”

 

Pre-pregnancy, when I would base trapeze, sometimes this would happen to me (we called me “Queen La-Queefia, and joked that I could propel our roll-around-the-bars with the force of them). It tended to happen when we were returning to trapeze after a short hiatus, so I suspect I was allowing my pelvic floor muscles to to relax a bit.

Does anyone have any words of wisdom for this quizzical queefer? It’s awful when something like this stands in the way of something you love. OK, Hive Mind! GO!!!! If you have any thoughts or recommendations, please leave them in the comments below! Love and pull-ups, Laura

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