A message from the editor: Everyone creates and works in different ways. Some performers may do best writing things down and planning while others might do best when they just go for it and improvise. This is how I found success in putting together a performance.
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As with many others, quarantine had me stuck in a rut. I love aerial and I was coming to work at the studio every day with everything I could possibly need to train right here…so why couldn’t I just do it?! Missing my students and missing training with the other coaches did a number on my motivation. I needed an extra push. I needed a reason to train. So I signed up to be in a fundraiser show… a show that was JUST TWO WEEKS AWAY! What was I thinking?! I could hardly climb to the top of a silk without being exhausted! Well, I am writing this now to let you know it IS possible to get a performance together in just two weeks.
Here’s how I did it:
1. PICK A SONG
This song could be one that means something special to you, has great beats, and/or has a good flow to it. Just try to pick something that you will enjoy moving to and not get tired of after listening to hundreds of times!
2. PICK YOUR FAVORITE MOVES
Pick some moves, any moves! Power moves, fun drops, pretty poses. Write down which moves you have to have in your performance because you just love doing them!
3. BUILD AROUND THE BEAT
The way I like to come up with choreography is by printing out the song lyrics then listening to the song while following along with the lyrics. I mark any spots in the lyrics that have strong beats that could do for a good drop or striking a pose. After marking up the lyrics, I put down where I think some of my favorite moves could go. I try to leave cool drops for the end as a grand finale!
4. ADD IN FILLERS
Now that you have the lyrics with a few moves written down to coincide with the beats, you need some fillers in between. Think about what kinds of wraps or footlocks are at the start and end of the moves you have down and then try to put filler moves that lead into or from those positions. Example: If you wanted to do airplane you will need to go into straddleback from double footlocks first. So choose some moves that could go before that which end in double footlocks such as maypole, perch, or splits-together-splits.
5. PRACTICE! PRACTICE! PRACTICE!
With your choreography rough draft written down (hopefully in pencil!), take to your apparatus! Go through the moves without music first to see that the flow makes sense.
6. READJUST YOUR CHOREOGRAPHY
Start practicing with music and see if you can hit the beats in time. If you are running late, think about removing some of the fillers. If you are early, try to slow down and don’t forget to pause in your poses. If you are still too early, add some more fillers. Your choreography first draft will likely not be your final draft. I usually end up being too ambitious forgetting to give my hands and muscles a break and thinking I have more time than I actually do. Don’t be married to your first draft!
7. FINE TUNE
If you can, record your performance and look for “problem” areas. Oftentimes when you are practicing you won’t feel like your legs have a micro-bend, but you can see it quite clearly if you can watch yourself in a recording. Focus on a small portion of your performance at a time when you are working on fine-tuning; then put it all together!
Some days you might not be motivated – give yourself a small goal for the day, maybe just a few pull ups and a couple of climbs, maybe it’s even just stretching and that’s it. If you only have a short amount of time to get performance ready try to do a little bit of exercise (even if it’s not on the silks) each day so you are building your strength and stamina or helping your flexibility. You will find that committing to even just a little of any kind of movement each day will help you to motivate to practice your performance the next day.
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This article was written by Meli Padilla. Meli first started her aerial journey at the University of California, Santa Barbara where she graduated with a BS in Environmental Studies and Zoology. After taking two summers of aerial silks classes, she found Fly Studios in 2015 not far from her hometown. She taught at Fly for three years then took a break to travel the world while squeezing in a few aerial classes in Malaysia and New Zealand.