By: Jen Mulson
Colorado Springs Gazette
February 16, 2016 at 8:30 am
My first ball rocket didn’t go as planned. Neither did my second or third attempts. As much as I’d hoped to gracefully navigate the silk fabrics hanging from the rig at Dragonfly Aerial Colorado, my first time was a bust. Cirque du Soleil would not be offering me a contract anytime soon. Ball rockets are challenging. They require you to reach up and grab a chunk of silk in each hand, then jump and maneuver your legs in the air with your hips lined up over your torso so you can balance there, knees pressed against your chest.
The belief I once held so dear – that I must have at least some upper body strength due to yoga – died inside me that day.
Aerial silks performances, with their pistons, straddle backs, basquels and drops, aren’t new. Anyone who’s attended a Cirque show is familiar with the artists who shimmy up the fabric, wind their limbs in magnificently complicated knots and perform contortions and acrobatics like it’s nothing.
But silk tricks aren’t only for traveling shows and professional artists. Nowadays, you’ll find classes full of regular Jills and Joes who want a different way to get in shape. And, who knows, those who excel at the craft might even get cast in a production at the Millibo Art Theatre, Subterranean Nightclub or the Mansion nightclub.
That’s what happened to Chloe Welton, who arrived at a class about a year ago with nothing more than an honors dance background from high school. In January, she auditioned for and was cast in an aerial silks role in the traveling production of “The Thorn.” She’ll slink through the sky next month during tour stops in Denver and Fort Worth, Texas.
“I like the challenge,” Welton said. “It’s a good workout, it’s artistic and pretty. I like alternative workouts. I don’t like to go to the everyday gym.”
Mistia Fallon opened Dragonfly Aerial about two years ago. She and her husband spent 12 years doing aerial silks and magic illusion shows on cruise ships and for corporate engagements. “I’ve taught everyone from professional dancers to moms who want to get their pre-baby bellies back,” Fallon said. “It’s different. You’re not just walking on a treadmill in front of a TV.”
Fallon was always a dancer, but her body type prohibited her in some areas, including ballet. “I loved how aerial silks was something where you weren’t compared to somebody right next to you,” she said. “I loved being strong and being a woman and athletic but at the same time feminine and artistic and creative. And this allows you to be that.” The workout can help build not only upper body strength but core strength and body awareness. Fallon often has men and women in her class who can’t touch their toes but can create a beautiful piece of choreography with the fabrics and their bodies.
“It just takes time,” counseled Elizabeth Fluharty, an aerial silks instructor at Yoga Mountain Shadows and a professional aerial silks artist at the Mansion nightclub. She’s also starring in the MAT’s “Dream Carousel.”
“I like to move slowly through things as a teacher – start with the very bottom and work my way up. I start with things that help with strength. I always have options for every level of student.”