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By Gloria Lin

What is Aerial Hoop and Silk?

Aerial Hoop and Silk is an art form that requires one to perform moves and techniques on suspended hula hoops or pieces of silk fabric. It is regarded as a type of dance that requires strength, flexibility, balance, control, and grace to master. As Aerial Hoops and Silk can be physically demanding, it can be incorporated into one’s fitness regime.

Though the origins of Aerial Hoop and Silk remains disputed, it has been a mainstay of circus acts since the mid-2000s. A notable example is the famed Cirque du Soleil's
Varekai show, which featured Aerial Hoop in its international tours. Apparently,  Aerial Silk was developed in 1995 by André Simard, one of Cirque du Soleil's acrobatic research and development specialist, who was trying to find new and exciting ways for acrobats to perform. 

How to Do:

As Aerial Hoop and Silk is a physically demanding activity, it is important to do a thorough warm-up before each session. Common warm ups include dances with high-powered stretching involved , and exercises that condition the core muscles such as pull-ups. Other warms-up exercises include leg lifts and incline sit-ups.

Aerial Hoop and Silk techniques are often similar to other more established aerial arts like Trapeze, a short suspended bar, or Corde Lisse, a soft cotton rope. Aerial Hoops are known as ‘Circeaux’ or ‘Lyra’, and combines acrobatics with contortion and dance for its techniques. It is heavily influenced by both the static and swinging Trapeze, especially for poses and postures that end of a performance.

For beginners, the basics include spinning and spinning, as well as learning the various ways one can hoist oneself onto the hoop. Moves include climbing above the hoop, as well as rolling and turning. Hanging from the hoop can be done either by both or one knee, an arm, or for more advanced learners, the ankles or shoulders. Hanging becomes tricky when it involves two people, as they must also take each other’s weight into consideration of the hoop’s natural momentum.

It is said that Aerial Silks - also known as ‘Tissues’ or ‘Fabrics’ is a progression from Aerial Hoop as one has to have higher levels of strength, flexibility and especially confidence, with its heart-stopping, gravity-defying moves. Common basic moves include wraps, drops, foot locks, and climbs. Of course, classes would also emphasise on the safety skills needed while on the silks, as learning Aerial Silk carries more risk that Aerial Hoops. As students get more confident on the silks, they will progress to complex drops, slides, and rolls.

Why Try Aerial Hoop and Silks:

Aerial Hoop and Silks accommodate a wide range of skill levels, from beginners to people with experience in pole dancing or other aerial arts. Classes usually start from the basics and allow students to work at their own pace and to progress on to more demanding techniques. This makes it suitable to almost anyone with an interest to try. It is a fitness regime that learners are able to train in order improve their performance.

Physically, Aerial Hoop and Silk builds strength and flexibility of many parts of the body, including arms, shoulders, back, and core. It is also a well-rounded sport as it conditions one’s balancing skills.

The novelty factor of Aerial Hoop and Silk also works to its advantage, as it combines a fitness regime and cardiovascular routine with interesting techniques and moves which will motivate learners to keep going back. This will help for recreational sports enthusiasts who get bored easily by mainstream sports which prove to be too static. The thrill of mastering a new skill, either on the hoops or silks, can be a great incentive for regular training.

Locally, Acropolates is the first studio to offer aerial arts as a recreational sport, with courses lasting for eight weeks each.

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