Category Archives: Uncategorized

Awesome Back Bending Resource!!!

Hello Dear Danglers! Just a quick post today. A friend on the F-books (thanks Autumn!!!) pointed out a GREAT video resource to help keep your spine healthy and bend-y. It’s only free until August 18, so jump on that!

Go to, go to Sign Up, and create a free account. Each week, they have a free class! The one this week is “Compression-Free Back Bends”. There are also paid memberships if this is your thing. I love free (and I’ll bet you do too), so YAY!


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.


Rigging From Trees – Magical or Moronic?

With summer in full swing, the hot topic of the week is:

“Is it a good idea to rig from trees?”

GREAT question! Is it safe? Why is there so much controversy? I see so-and-so doing it, so what’s the big deal? More great questions! Let’s chat!


The Allure of Trees

What aerialist hasn’t looked at a gorgeous tree branch and thought, “Man, I would love to hang on that!” Trees are beautiful, seem strong, and totally whisper to our just-a-little-bit-and-sometimes-a-whole-lot-granola side. And don’t we all have fabulous memories hurling ourselves off a tire swing or rope into a river? Or climbing until we were positively giddy with our own daring? Besides, it seems like a super cheap alternative to renting studio time. Why shouldn’t we just grab a branch and get to making the fabulous?


The Problem With Trees

It’s not that you CAN’T rig safely from trees – for sure, it can be done. The big question is, do YOU have the expertise to do it? Unless you’re a professional rigger with an arborist for a best friend, I seriously doubt it. It comes down to what all aerial rigging comes down to: accurately assessing the structural integrity of an overhead anchor, understanding the forces likely to be placed on it, and then rigging accordingly.


Accurately assessing the overhead anchor – Are you SURE you know what’s happening inside that branch? Do you know signs of disease in trees? What about how weather conditions (lots of rain, drought, etc) affect them? How to check for signs of distress in the branch you want to hang from? There are SO MANY things that factor into the health of the tree.


Understanding the forces likely to be placed on it – How familiar are you with rigging REALLY? Do you understand how much force you generate when you climb? What about drops? Were you planning on crawling out on that branch and rigging 5 or 6 feet from the trunk with a span set and carabiner? Or, better yet, were you going to go out and choke your fabric directly to the branch? If you were thinking about doing either of these things, friend (and I say this with love), you have no idea what the hell you’re doing. Get off that poor tree. I’m not trying to ruin your fun, but there are a lot of complex factors at play here.


Where This All Leaves Us (Ha Ha – Get it? LEAVES?!)

The bottom line is that it’s a horrible idea to rig to ANYTHING if you don’t know what you’re dealing with. Most of the students who come to me with questions about trees do so because they’re looking for a cheaper alternative to studio space. HEAR ME NOW. By the time you hire a rigger, arborist, and purchase proper equipment, it’s unlikely to be a cheaper alternative. Know what’s also not cheap? Hospitals. Lawsuits. Funerals. Get what I’m saying? Don’t be a dufus. Don’t be an ARROGANT dufus. A wise aerialist knows the limit of his or her expertise, and respects it. For the sake of our community, I hope you’ll do the same. If you’re determined to rig from a tree – do it right. Hire professionals!


Here’s a great article (thank you Jordann Baker & Sadie Hawkins for posting this!) on tree rigging – give it a look. It really points out the particular challenges of rigging safely from our leafy friends without hurting the tree or us. Read it read it read it now! Love and pull-ups, Laura


Rigging From Trees Article


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.


Featured in “Natural Awakenings” Magazine!!!!

Hey – this is pretty cool! I was just featured in “Natural Awakenings” magazine! I think that’s pretty nifty. 🙂


Sandra Murphy writes:


“Aerial silk classes take exercising to new heights. Cirque du Soleil-style and more elegant than rope climbing, students don’t have to be in peak shape to start. “Just show up and want to learn,” says international performing aerialist Laura Witwer, who teaches how to climb fabric attached to steel rigging 16 to 25 feet high in New York City spaces. “We work close to the floor for beginners,” she explains. “They learn to climb, then to hang upside-down, and then tie knots. We’ve had all body sizes, shapes and ages in class; it’s a great way to stretch and add strength.”


Read the entire article here! 🙂 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.


Inter-webs Goodies!

Hello Dear Danglers! I’m on vacation for a week (!!!!!), but I found some goodies floating around the F-Books I thought you might enjoy.  I have my own thoughts on these which I’ll share soon, but for now, I’m off to float in the lake with my ankle-biter. Read, discuss amongst yourselves. 😉 Love and pull-ups, Laura

Stop Stretching Your Hamstrings So Much – an interesting take on hamstring injury related to hyper-flexibility.

How Dancers Can Achieve a Better Body Line – if you can wade through the dancer-speak, this is a great reminder of how to keep the body long, with beautiful, elegant carriage.

Shoulder Bursitis/Rotator Cuff Tendinitis – a great overview of the most common repetetive stress injury in aerialists.


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.


I’m Back – Killian Cog Pictures!

Hello all! A huge thank you for all your kind words and well-wishes for “The Bizarre and Curious Quest of Killian Cog”, our new touring show. SUPER EXCITING! I’m still playing catch-up, but I thought you might want a quick peek at some of the acts. More soon! Enjoy! Love and pull-ups, Laura


Aerial wheel!



Duo Spanish Web



Hula hoops!



Hand to Hand



German wheel (that’s me in the corner!)





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.


A Wee Blog Hiatus While We Prep for Our Show!!!

Hello Dear Danglers! You may (or may not) have noticed that the blog has been a bit slow lately – sorry about that! It’s for a great reason! My company, ImaginAerial, is FINALLY getting it’s first hopefully-soon-to-be-touring show out the door! Its called “The Bizarre and Curious Quest of Killian Cog”. We’re doing a sneak peek next week on June 28 & 29th at SLAM in NYC (buy tickets here!), and the BIG SHEBANG will happen July 13 & 14 at the Performing Arts Center at Kent State. We’re delerious with excitement and exhaustion. Soooooo, I need to take a few weeks off to devote to finishing the bazillion things that still need doing. I hope you can come see one of the shows – we would love to see you there!!!! 🙂 Love and pull-ups, Laura



When Injury Happens, The First Hour is Critical!

Hello Dear Danglers! You’ve been there, I’ve been there. You’re training, or walking past the really sharp coffee table, or knitting at unsafe speeds, and BAM! Injury happens. Whether it’s a bruise, break, or chronic condition, injuries are awful. Aside from the pain and inconvenience of the actual ouchie, the mental and emotional toll can be considerable (light burns and bruises excepted – suck it up). What’s a dangler to do? Let’s chat.

At the First Sign of Pain

STOP. Do you hear me? STOP. Wait, breathe. Assess. Pain is your body’s alarm system, and shouldn’t be ignored. In fact, how you handle that injury in the first hour can make a HUGE difference in how quickly you can get back in the air.  Circus hurts, no doubt about it! But there’s a big difference between the “pinchy” pain of training, and the “I’m severing an artery” pain of injury. If it’s the latter, you should:

  1. STOP.
  2. If the injury is severe, emergency medical protocol should be observed. Remember – NEVER TRAIN ALONE.
  3. If you have a visible wound (a burn or open cut, for example), get thee to the first aid station and take care of it pronto. Don’t get that sh*t on my fabric. 😉
  4. No external wound? Not an emergency? Breathe, wait. Let your body “settle”.
  5. Assess your pain. Has it disappeared? Grown worse? Stayed about the same?
  6. If your pain has disappeared and you decide to continue with your training, baby that area for the rest of your session. Remember – you don’t get points for making it worse. Only hurting during a certain move? Repeat after me: “I’m going to skip that one today.”
  7. Grown worse or stayed the same? Re-assess – do you need medical attention? Regardless, no more training today for you! First aid, ya’ll. Commit this to memory, it can speed your healing. RICE:
  • Rest – yes, YOU.
  • Ice – repeat after me: NEVER HEAT A FRESH INJURY!!!! Ice ice, baby.
  • Compress – grab an ACE bandage and gently compress, careful not to cut off your circulation.
  • Elevate – prop that baby up!

Many doctors also recommend a standard dose of an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory (ex: ibuprofin) soon after the injury to reduce inflammation.

Got an instructor who pushes you into pain? Disregards your experience of pain? Shames you when you get hurt? That is not ok. Remember – it’s YOUR body. If it breaks, they don’t have to live in it. Part of any physical endeavor is learning to OWN your body, and set limits for yourself and others. Protect that beautiful bod!


When a Diagnosis is in Order

Is it an “injury”, not just an ouchie? Getting worse instead of better? Very painful? You can certainly ask your instructor for their input, but don’t mistake them for a medical professional. Here’s a great blog post (brought to my attention by the lovely and talented Sabrina McNeal) about exactly that. You turn to the pros to teach you to soar through the air, you’ll want to consider doing the same when it comes to your diagnosis & treatment. Dance Instructors and Injury Management: Leave it to the Pros

Have a lovely, safe, and injury free week, my lovlies! I’ll see you in the air! Love and pull-ups, Laura


For next week: Ow Ow OW! Working Around an Injury, Part 2

The week after: Ow Ow OW! Working Around a Chronic Condition, Part 3


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.


Madison Circus Space!

Want to support some truly awesome folks with some big circus dreams? Let’s help the Madison Circus Space get started! Let’s see circus spread across the USA! This is something you can DO, today. Do you have a wonderful training space near you? Awesome – pay it forward so others can discover the magic you’ve found! Don’t have a training space near you? Consider this a karmic seed planted. We have to support each other, and this is one very concrete way of doing just that!!! Not in a position to give right now? That’s OK! Support them by sharing this link with five people right now. Let’s do this thing! Love and pull-ups, Laura


Hands UP! Essential Hand Warm-Up for Aerial & Circus Training

Hello Dear Danglers! So. You’ve warmed up your shoulders, you’ve stretched out your hamstrings, you’ve sat in a straddle for half an hour chatting with your classmate Jane about last nights episode of “The Vampire Diaries”. Great! BUT – have you warmed up the part of your body that will get the most use in the next hour? Have you warmed up your hands?

When we think “warm up”, we think of the big muscles of the chest, back, abs, legs, etc. But the small muscles of the hand need some lovin’ too! Especially in the early days, you may find yourself waking up with “claw hands”, or soreness in the finger joints. Totally normal! This is inflammation in the joints, otherwise known as arthritis. Now, before you freak out, know that this soreness is usually temporary, and doesn’t meaningfully affect training. But a good hand warm-up can go a long way towards steering you away from chronic hand issues down the line, and prepares your hands for the important work of, you know, gripping the apparatus to keep you alive. 😉

Below is my hand warm-up that I do before training and performance. It ain’t fancy, just takes my hands through their expected range of motion and gets those joints lubed up before I abuse them. I hope you find it useful! Do you have any hand exercises that you love? Share them in the comments below! 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.