Aerial Arts to volunteer at national championship
by Sam Allen
Sun Star Editor-in-Chief
The UAF Aurora Aerial Arts club, which performs acrobatic twists and holds suspended from silk fabric, has been invited to volunteer at the National Aerial Championships held in New York this February.
The organization formed under the direction of UAF student Teal Rogers after Thanksgiving last year. Since then more than 60 people have tried their hand at this performance art.
Performers are suspended from silk fabric without the use of safety lines and wrap, swing, and drop their bodies into and out of more than 150 different positions.
“It’s majestic, it’s an art, it’s beautiful, it makes you feel sexy,” Ellie Culleton, UAF nursing student, said. Culleton had a break through in practice last Wednesday in the Student Recreation Center.
“Something clicked,” she said. “Instead of feeling like I needed to think, I just did what felt natural and fell into it.” Culleton tried two new moves and executed them flawlessly on her first attempts. Rogers helped her clear her mind and focus by climbing on top of her using the same silks and eased her through moves.
Culleton says the good part about the class is that it’s comfortable and she doesn’t feel out of place. “It’s pretty damn cool to brag about,” she said.
Rogers was introduced to aerial silks when a friend’s roommate visiting from Massachusetts, Miriam Brooks showed her a couple of moves one night. “She asked me if I wanted to try it and I said, ‘heck yeah I wanna try it’, and I fell in love with it instantly.” She became Rogers mentor and tutor for aerial silks.
Rogers began practicing with Brooks in the Student Recreation Center rock wall area. Soon, so many people started asking them about it and expressed interest to learn that Rogers decided to form the club. Rogers went to UAF student government for funding to start the club with four silk sets. The club now has 8 silks shared between 36 active members according to Katie Oldenkamp, UAF elementary education student and vice president of Aurora Aerial Arts.
On Wednesday night at the SRC fitness studio about 30 students showed up for aerial practice. Some wore Halloween-inspired costumes, tutus, one student was dressed as a genie and another donned a footie-pajama-tardus from Dr. Who.
“Like most moves we do, we’re gonna’ crochet our legs,” Silk Instructor Murial Berg said as Rogers demonstrated a move called the “monkey hold” on silks. They also showed the group a move called “thread the needle.” The names don’t stop there. Peter Pan, Stag, stripper pole and candy cane rollup. “We do have a move called Rebecca Splits. I don’t know who Rebecca is, but she got really famous,” said Rogers. Berg and Rogers spend a lot of time on YouTube watching aerial artists and learning new moves to show the club.
The first move to master is the “wrist lock,” according to Mackerie Stamey, UAF biology student. It’s where the aerial artist is suspended upside down with the silk wrapped around their wrists, supporting their entire body weight. The wrist lock is a basic maneuver that prefaces several other moves, so it’s a good base move, according to Rogers.
Stamey’s favorite moment was mastering the “The Scorpion.” In this, move the performer wraps their feet up three times in the silk and brings their legs over their head, so they’re upside down in a locked position. “It’s kinda a thrill, doing something you normally wouldn’t do,” she said, “being upside down, being in a crazy move you didn’t think you’d accomplish.”
If you go:
Where: Upstairs in the SRC fitness studio
When: Monday and Wednesdays (advanced class) 8-9:30 p.m.
Cost: $20 semester fee, first two sessions are free
Who: Any UAF students, faculty, staff and alumni