I recently had the opportunity to attend an Aerial silk dance class at Northwest Dance Studio in Orlando. The moment I heard about the class, I said sign me up because when will I ever get the opportunity to do this again.
First a little background on the studio. The studio, directed by Sarah Swindell, opened in 2005 and strives to provide not only dance training but also instill self esteem and confidence in its students. It is focused on reaching out to students in the nearby community and offers them opportunities they otherwise would not be exposed to due to financial or other similar hindrances. Classes offered include ballet, contemporary, hip-hop, aerial silks and more and are open to all ages and abilities. The studio is also home to the Northwest Dance Company which offers the serious student performance opportunities throughout the year. Students learn not only dance and performance technique, but also learn about lighting, music, and stage production.
As I said earlier, as soon as I heard about the aerial silks class, I couldn’t wait to try it. After some stretching and Pilates, our instructor, Sarah, demonstrated the first skill we would learn. She showed us a single leg wrap and how you use it to climb the silk. Of course she made it look extremely easy as she climbed the silk to the top, extended her legs, and then descended quickly and smoothly. The other ladies and I couldn’t wait to try. But oh were we in for a surprise! It’s hard! I quickly discovered that aerial silk dance uses nearly every muscle, even ones you won’t be aware of until the following morning. It requires leg strength, upper body strength, core strength, and even uses the tiny muscles in the fingers and toes. I attempted a back walk over with the silk but need more practice to master that one. The last skill I learned involved tying a knot in the silk that supports the low back. I lay back on the knot and then flipped my hips in a straddle position over my head so that I was upside down. It was very fun and actually stretched out my back muscles. When executed properly, aerial silk dancing is very graceful and elegant. Not sure I’ll ever be ready for Cirque du Soleil but I had a great time trying out something new and I definitely have a new appreciation for how hard these dancers work yet look effortless doing it.
Be sure to check out the Northwest Dance Company’s latest production Maggie, based loosely on the ancient story of Mary Magdalene, featuring aerial skills, contemporary and ballet choreographed to the sounds of an all-original soundtrack. Performances will be held in the Northwest Church Auditorium, 5495 Clarcona-Ocoee Road in Orlando, on Friday March 29, 2013 at 7 P.M. and Sunday March 31 at 9 and 10:30 A.M. and 12 noon. Admission is free and seating is first come, first served. Call the studio for more information regarding this performance and classes for children and adults at 407-490-3345 and visit them at Facebook.com/NorthwestDanceStudio or their website at www.NWDanceOrlando.com.