Acrobatic stunts fall into a wide range of physical disciplines, some floor-based, and others in the air.
Some acts require extensive equipment while others need only the artist under the spotlight. It may take many years to perfect the allure of the acrobatic tricks we see performed on stage around the world.
But acrobatics can be accessible to beginners, as well. In this article, I will show you a few “signature” tricks for each of the acrobatics.
- Pullover to a Front Balance (watch video)
From a hollow body position beneath the apparatus, the trapeze artist brings their hands to the bar, pulling up and over between the ropes, and coming finally to a balance on their hips. The arms take a pose outstretched by the sides.
- The Mermaid (watch video)
Mermaid can be an extension of the front balance position. Here, the aerialist reaches up to the rope on one side, gently rotating the entire body to a 45-degree angle. The opposite arm should find a beautiful, extended pose here, or another variation as it serves the story of the act.
- Skin the Cat (watch video)
Starting in the hollow body position with both feet on the floor, the artist grasps the bar above with a forward grip, tucking the legs up into a tight ball. The movement continues with the knees and feet rising up under the bar and all the way through the arms to the other side. The legs straighten, and the feet remain pointed the entire time.
To descend, the trapeze artist will reverse the movement. This move can be utilized for conditioning practice or as part of a sequence in a professional routine.
- The Wrap Climb (watch video)
This is often the first climb that’s taught to beginning aerial acrobats. In the wrap climb, the artist uses a wrap around the leg to help them get up and off the floor. Other beginning-level aerial silk climbs include the Russian climb and the bicycle climb. Later, one might learn inverted climbs such as the double knee climb and the straddle climb.
- Footlock Sequence (watch video)
The aerialist starts by creating a single footlock from the floor by wrapping the fabric up and over the foot. Standing on the footlock (also called a foot key) is a sturdy position if the lock is wrapped correctly. From here, the artist brings the opposite (unlocked) foot to press against the fabric pole and the knee. Keeping the body aligned, they then lean out to the side for a simple and graceful pose in the air.
- Straddle Up (watch video)
The basic straddle up (along with climbing) may be one of the most critical skills to master on the silks. Beginning from the floor, holding the fabric to one side, the aerialist prepares to invert. The grip tightens, the knees come to the chest, and the legs unfold into an inverted straddle. Coming back down to the floor with control strengthens the muscles.
For an added challenge and a different aesthetic, a silks performer might straddle up with both legs straightened.
- Waltz Turns (watch video)
The acrobat stands inside the wheel with both hands and both feet making contact with the wheel. Shifting the weight back and forth, they spin inside the circle. So named because of their graceful glide across the floor, waltz turns are a skill that every Cyr artist must master.
- Turns in Place
These rotations contrast with the waltz turns in their method. The Cyr artist keeps the body weight centered as they spin, not shifting side to side. The Cyr wheel demands a strong core and balance to execute its challenging moves at any level.
How to get started to becoming an Acrobat?
If you’ve ever wanted to try these acrobatic tricks, it won’t be a challenge to find an audience to cheer you on once you have practiced and polished your routine.
When you’re ready, consider signing up to perform at the student show at your local circus school, or record your performance for a remote presentation.
Acrobatic arts are a fun way to get and stay fit, push past your perceived limits, and be a part of the world’s most vibrant and eclectic community.
Learning to pull off acrobatic stunts can forge new friendships and raise one’s self-esteem. Just make sure you have your safety measures in place, including a crash mat for a soft place to fall.