250 Years of Circus: Why Straps Are the Most Balletic and Stripped Back of Aerial Disciplines
I do straps because it’s just me and the air up there. It’s the most stripped back of aerial disciplines. The straps are two thin bands that you can barely see, so the act becomes much more about an elegant body in motion rather than a human’s interaction with an object.
Straps are a very old discipline, the straps were originally made of leather instead of Nylon like today. The Chinese have been doing their own style of straps for hundreds of years (since about the 16th century). I say style because the Chinese way of performing on straps looks different, much more fast-paced and acrobatic than you’ll see me do it. My genre of straps comes from the Russian tradition which is only about forty years old and is much more balletic with slower more controlled movements, like you might see on men’s gymnastic rings.
I started circus when I was young. I wasn’t a fan of any team sports and didn’t really have the patience for painting or for music. When I was about seven years-old my parents made me try a trampoline and circus summer camp. We put on a silly show at the end with Cirque du Soleil music and homemade costumes, but I came back every year for ten years after that and started doing trampoline competitively until I was one level under Olympic. My trampoline skill got me into the National Circus School in Montreal, where I immediately abandoned trampoline and turned to aerial.
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