Aerial arts has given me a medium to build strength, share stories, and process emotions. Over the past ten years it has been my second home, a safe space for me to explore movement and process a busy day after school. I fell in love with the dynamic capabilities of my body and grew to love tackling new skills. I have built a family of fellow students and forged lifelong bonds with instructors. Aerial integrated into my life seamlessly. I didn’t fully grasp its importance in my life until my studio closed in March of 2020 as a result of Coronavirus.
At first it felt like everything was going to be okay. It felt nice to slow down and take a break from the hectic monotony my life had become. Instead of rushing to the next thing, I could take stock of the moment and relish in the day. Shortly after, I realized that I had no idea what to do with myself. There was a giant gap in my schedule – where aerial should have been. With hopes of the studio opening again soon, I attempted to maintain flexibility and strength by following along to exercise videos on YouTube. It wasn’t the same and I found myself missing my aerial family. As time went on, I lost interest and eventually stopped moving altogether.
In December of 2020, I got my first opportunity in months to touch a silk. I was so eager and nervous that the silks found their way into my dreams… except in this version, my body was unable to invert into a straddle or even tie a footlock! When I finally made it to the studio, I was an anxious ball of excited energy. The reunion with my instructor was euphoric (it was a private lesson for safety reasons). My peers were a source of external motivation for me and I found it hard to push myself without them. During that hour, it was hard to push my body to do things I so vividly remembered. I didn’t know the limits of my body anymore. In fact, I wasn’t able to do moves that I had anticipated being able to do.
Being unable to invert into a tuck was the spark of motivation that I needed. After that, I exercised on my home pull up bar on a daily basis for a month. Today, I am nowhere near as strong as I was and I often lose motivation; but losing aerial to a pandemic reminded me of the long forgotten starting point I came from.
Whatever the physical capability my body may have, I am grateful to have aerial arts in any capacity. It has brought joy back into my pandemic life.
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This article was written by Zoë G. Zoë has been an aerialist for over 10 years. She is also a senior in high school, sister, and amateur ukulele player who can recite the alphabet backwards. Currently, she is the co-captain of her school’s robotics team, an avid reader (of books and web comics), and a bit of a podcast enthusiast. She finds hearing and reading other peoples’ stories captivating and impactful, especially during this time of social isolation.