So it’s time… you’ve started working on your first aerial routine (congratulations that’s a pretty mean feat in itself) but please do yourself a massive favour – check your lines!
What are ‘lines’ I hear you say?
Well it’s aerial speak and it’s referring to the extended alignment of the body. Ballet dancers know this only too well but yes ladies (and gents) it’s also an essential ingredient in aerial dance. It can be very easy to get carried away with all the thrills and spills of learning new tricks, tricks, tricks but they are going to look like jack shit unless you pay careful attention to your form. Fabulous lines equals fantastic routine. Period.
Work it like a pro
Fear not however, because you’ve already done most of the hard work. You’ve built that muscle, developed stamina and you’re busting out moves like there is no tomorrow. Now if you just place a little bit of awareness into exactly how you execute those hard won little beauties, you’ll soon be working your routine like a pro .
The five most frequent offenders
These are the five most common aerial faux pas I see at beginner level and some quick tips on how to go about fixing them so your lines will be as fabulous as they deserve to be.
FAULT: BENT LEGS I know it sounds obvious but bent legs are so damn ugly! Please straighten them… Usually I get replies such as ‘but they ARE straight’, well sorry chickadee I’ve been watching you like a hawk, and I can see that they are definitely un-straight. It’s very easy to think that your legs are straight as an arrow, but unless you are ballet trained, often what feels like a straight leg is actually what I define as a lazy leg. Not forgetting all that micro-bending that goes on in the hanging beats. Yes you know what I’m talking about.
FIX: STRAIGHT LEGS You need to actively engage your quads, whilst lifting your knee caps and then send energy out and down your legs. In your hanging beats think about bending at the hips and imagining your legs have got rods in them. Not the prettiest of images I know but it works for me!
FAULT: LAZY TOES This is a non-negotiable for aerial, the lowest of the lows, and if I catch you doing it past Level One I will slap your wrists (or ankles!). You’ve been warned… Unless of course you decide to go all contemporary on me, where flexing the foot is totally acceptable behaviour. This is only usually done however after one has first and foremost got all the pointing nailed. So anyway point taken I hope (ha).
FIX: POINTED TOES Invest in a pair of stripper heals and learn to dance in them! I’m not being too serious here as that is possibly not everyones cuppa tea, but it will help. Also spending the day tiptoeing around the house will strengthen the foot. (I’m not joking and I often so this!). Or go to a ballet class, or Aerial Fit for some toe pointing exercises.
FAULT: CROWS FOOT This is the term I apply to that perfectly natural but oh so hideous action of your feet flexing when you are in hocks. It’s your body thinking it needs to grip harder to the bar (understandably because it thinks it might fall off). However in actual fact all it is really doing is making matters worse. It actually makes you less safe as you are now over tensing. Yes you need to squeeze your heels to your bum in order to stay on the bar, but if your feet are crows footing, babe you are definitely over working.
FIX: RELAXED TOES It sounds counter intuitive to what you think you might need to be doing at this point in time, so try it with a spotter standing by to make yourself feel safer. When you are in hocks squeeze your heels to your bum – that will ensure that you’ll stay on the bar but then relax your feet (don’t flex them) – release those muscles and your hocks position will become a lot more natural.
FAULT: CHICKEN WINGS By this I mean that bent arm syndrome and not what comes in a bargain bucket! There is never a time when chicken wings look pretty, so if in doubt – extend. Get yourself a ballet video and learn the arm positions – it’s an art in itself. Arms want to look sleek and slender not straight and wooden. You’ll want to extend and reach, but soften into a slight curve at the same time. All the while sending energy out through the fingertips.
FIX: ARMS REACHING Well as I already mentioned there is the ballet video option or go find a ballet class. But failing that practice over lengthening your arms and softening – by that I mean reaching, reaching, reaching until you can reach no more and then soften back to a slightly more comfortable position and that is probably where the arms should be.
FAULT: THE HUNCHBACK You are a performer not a Quasimodo! So when in doubt – boobs out (obviously don’t take me literally here)… But throw your chest forward, squeezing your shoulders back and tilt your chin up. This not only lengthens your spine but you will feel more confident too. No one wants to see you looking down at the floor as if it just rained on your parade. Be proud of who you are, go that extra mile, ruffle those tail feathers and show them what you are made of.
FIX: SHOULDERS BACK Yoga and ballet are both great for improving posture so doing some of these classes are ideal. Otherwise practice what I said above at home in front of a mirror.
What to do next…
So now with these tips in mind I want you to go out there and turn your dangling about into a dazzling and death-defying-toe-pointing-leg-straightening-arm-reaching-chest-out-and-tails-a-ruffling awesome routine!
Want more help? Come and join the Level 3 Course where I will be teaching you how to work moves into seamlessly flowing routines, turn messy sequences into flawless ones, perfect your form and how to choreograph to music. Sound good? Click here for further info.
Want 1-2-1 help with your routine? Book a private session and I can work with you individually on whatever your needs are. Click here to contact me for further info.
In fitness and in flight, Astra