What is Movement First aerial?

I’ve been teaching aerial for a long time. 

I took my first lesson in January of 2008, and started teaching about a year or so later. So, that was a while ago. It’s the thing I’ve done longest throughout my life, and it doesn’t seem like I’ll be stopping any time soon.

I am a naturally curious person. Wanting to understand “why” has always been a driving force in my life. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise to hear that understanding the whys in aerial has been a huge factor in my development as a coach.

This curiosity has led me to learning lots of different things, and training in multiple movement systems outside of the aerial and circus sphere. Pilates, The GYROTONIC® method, Functional Range Conditioning, to name just a few.

And here’s what I’ve learned:

There is no magic modality or method that is the best. There is no form of exercise that is better than the other. 

They’re all just teaching you how to move, and giving different frameworks on how to do so.

You might personally prefer or find one to provide more benefit than the other, but in the grand scheme of things, it all boils down to working on moving your body well, with different structure and stimulus to help you do so.

As aerial is my primary modality as a mover and coach, this has naturally become the lens that I view aerial training through as well.

Aerial arts is just movement on an apparatus instead of on the floor.

If you want to be good at it, you need to move well. If you want to be good at coaching it, you need to understand human movement.

Here’s the thing: there are a limited number of ways the human body can move, and every person on the planet has the same limitations. Some more so than others, which can depend on things like how your bones are shaped and how they fit together, and whether you are more naturally flexible or stiff, as well as your size, shape, and how physically able you are.

But at the end of the day, your spine flexes and extends, rotates and side bends, and that’s all it does. Whether you’re on the ground or in the air, those are your only available options.

We might not all have the same physical capacity for movement, but our bodies all have the same essential options for movement.

And this idea has fundamentally changed how I approach coaching aerial arts.

I no longer coach skills. I coach movement, and we apply that movement to skills on an apparatus.

I call this a “Movement First” approach to aerial arts.

To me, this means that when I’m coaching, I’m teaching my students first and foremost about how they move, and then applying it to the skill in question.

What parts of the movement are challenging for them? How can we break that down so they can make those connections more easily?

It also means that I don’t really think about aerial in terms of “skills” any more. 

Now I think about aerial in terms of “pathways”.

To me, what that means is this:

We have these limited ways that the human body can move. And somewhat more limited ways in which we can move on our apparatus. 

And so we have ways that we move that are repeated over and over, except that depending on where our apparatus is in relation to our bodies, maybe these same pathways take us to different places. Or, if we’re combining two pathways maybe that takes us someplace else. Or we can do the same pathways right side up AND upside down, and get different but similar results depending. Or, or, or.

So now, I teach people how their movement relates to their apparatus, and how one particular pathway can be expressed in all these different scenarios. And if they can understand how their apparatus supports them, and how one movement can lead to the next, and all of the different options they may have depending on where they are in space, and where the apparatus is, then they have the freedom to explore and find their own ways to move, rather than being bound by the idea that one skill is done only one way, or memorizing my choreography because that’s the thing that they learned in my class.

To my curious brain, I find it a lot more satisfying to teach my students how to understand and explore on their own. I’d much rather help them explore their own “whys” than be dependent on me to answer those questions for them.

It’s not the best way to teach, or the right way to teach.

It’s just my way of teaching.

But, I do think it can be a helpful and valuable way to understand aerial movement. And I’m excited to start sharing more about these ideas.

Which is why I’m thrilled to announce that I’m developing my first online aerial course!

Aerial for Nerds will be a course based on exploring and understanding fundamental aerial pathways. This course will focus primarily on rolling pathways, rolling around, rolling up, rolling down, rolling over, rolling up a leg…. You get the idea. Yes, there will be C-shaping, but there’s a lot more to rolling than just C-shaping. 

This course will be based on the teaching curriculum I’ve been developing and refining over the last decade. While the course material will be taught on sling, the concepts and ideas can translate on every apparatus.

This course isn’t going to include cool choreography and skills. It will probably include lots of movements that you’re familiar with. But it may ask you to move through those movements in a more thoughtful, intentional way. And it will analyze and break down those movements so you can better understand them, and explore other instances that you can apply them in.

If you’re an intermediate or above aerialist who loves to geek out on the details, and wants to keep improving your technique so that you can move with grace and ease, or if you’re an instructor who wants more tools in your toolbox, this course is for you.

Course details, like date and price are still TBD. There will be weekly, pre recorded lessons, and live 1 one 1 sessions with yours truly.

BUT the waitlist is open now.

I’ll be opening registration to the waitlist first, and spots will be super limited, so make sure to get on it if you’re interested!

I can’t say that I’m not super nervous to be putting this all out there, but I’ve worked with a lot of people over the years using these ideas and I’ve seen it help so many of them create deeper connections, refine their skills, and open the doors to finding their own voice and movement on their apparatus. And for me, facilitating a deeper relationship with yourself, and your apparatus, is what it’s all about.

And I can’t wait to share.

Sign up here to get on the waitlist. You’ll be hearing from me soon.

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