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Querying Gender

“Querying Gender”, a new creation by dancers Paul Lewis Jayeden Walker and Mateo Galindo Torres performed in an informal studio setting

DESCRIPTION:

This project examines how we find our own dance in a world where we are regularly choreographed by assigned roles. Using improvisation, we seek to make contact from a place of liberatory movement that offers moment-to-moment choice. To query how people read bodies in a dance form that shares weight rather than assigning gendered roles. Is it possible to disrupt the choreography of gender, abandoning what doesn’t serve us–if only for the length of a dance? In other words: How can we find our own dance in a world where we are choreographed by the roles we play?  If we don’t have the freedom to be our own unique self, can we truly make contact?

DATE: Tuesday, June 21, 2022

TIME: 8:45 pm to 9:40 pm

LOCATION: Beach United Church: 140 Wineva Ave, Toronto

Wheelchair Accessible by elevator in the building

TICKETS: $10

BOXOFFICEhttps://reasondetredanceboxoffice.eventive.org/schedule/61be3353c89c1e00959607cd

ARTISTS

Image description: A portrait of Paul smiling, with blue eyes and grey hair. Wearing a grey button up shirt next to a grey fence in the sunshine. (photo Credit: Jonathon Neville)

Paul Lewis (ki/kin) is a queer LGBT movement artist with a love for good light and gardens.  Paul has studied Contact Improvisational dance since 2015 in Toronto as well as at Leviathan Studio on Lasqueti Island and in 2018 performed the role of Therapist in Men’s Circle produced by REAson D’etre Dance Productions. Ki brings a background of yoga and bodywork to this movement inquiry.

Image description: A headshot of Jayeden Walker , a young white femme with blue eyes and mid length curly blond hair. She looks over her shoulder at the camera smiling playfully, her curls framing her face and flowing down her back. (photo credit: Paul Lewis)

Jayeden Walker is a queer neurodivergent circus artist with a specialty in aerial arts. She has been performing circus for over a decade in both corporate and creative settings, finding contact dance in 2019. Healing from a series of traumatic brain injuries guided Jayeden to shift her focus toward creating inclusive, trauma-informed movement spaces and disability arts. Her most recent act, Pirate Tails, has toured a number of pride festivals and was recently shown at the Harbourfront CoMotion Festival for Deaf and Disability arts. Jayeden currently lives, plays, and creates as a white treaty inhabitant in Toronto where she runs recreational circus classes and social circus programming for Queer and Trans youth. 

Image description: Headshot of Mateo Galindo Torres. He is wearing a blue button shirt and his hands rests on his chin and he looks into the camera lens with a serious fascial expression.

Mateo Galindo Torres is a Colombian-Canadian multidisciplinary dance artist, actor and performer based in Toronto. As an interpreter, he has worked with a wide array of directors and choreographers, for live theatre, voice over and film. Mateo has performed in Canada, Colombia, Cuba, Germany, Mexico, and Panama. As a choreographer and creator, his work is highly influenced by his Latinx American background, often politically charged, and inspired by social subject matters. Mateo is the founder and artistic director of GUETCHA GUARITCHA.

Creative contributions were made by Jonathon Neville who was unable to complete the project

COVID PROTOCOL

  • All current COVID Gov’t protocols will be followed.
  • Masks are optional
  • Al levels of vaccination or non-vaccination are welcome.
  • There will be three HEPA filter (one at the box office table, one in the hallway and one in the studio)

ACCESS INFO:

  • Wheelchair-accessible performance hall and washrooms
  • A program listing the dancers and works will be provided through QR codes so people can read the program on their phones with their usual accessibility features.
  • At this time the PRESENTER does not have the means to provide live Sign Language Interpretation or live audio description for the performance.
  • Please send access requests or questions to info@reasondetre.com

FUNDING

This event is funded by the Toronto Arts Council, Canadian Heritage Foundation, and the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

Image description: Three logos (Canadian Heritage, Ontario Trillium, and Toronto Arts Council)

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Pop-up Circus Classes

Interested in moving with me? Learn to climb on the silks, make fun shapes on an aerial hoop, or increase your flexibility in the park! Pop up classes for the month of June!

Saturdays:

Aerial Classes: King & River
Price is 35$ per class (including HST)

5pm Aerial Silks (all levels)

6:15 Aerial Hoop (all levels)

Classes are all levels (beginner-friendly!) I lesson plan based on who’s signed up, so if I haven’t taught you before (or in a while) feel free to leave me a note about the current level you’re working at on your apparatus.

Mondays:

Active Flexibility class: Riverdale Park East
Sliding scale 15$ – 25$ +HST Choose what feels sustainable to you.

6:30pm Active Flexibility

Private Lessons

Can’t make a class time? Have something specific you’d like to work on? You can book private and semi-private lessons with me to suit your schedule.

I offer lessons for kids, teens, and adults with all levels of experience. Get in touch!

You can signup here

Once form is completed, E-transfer your class payment to Jayeden.w@gmail.com with the class date(s) in the memo.

You will receive exact location info with confirmation of enrollment within 48 hours of payment receipt.

Please reach out to me if finances are a barrier and I’m more than happy to chat about a sliding scale option that might work for you. Financial accessibility is a huge priority of mine, and I’d love to have you in class. You can reach me at Jayeden.w@gmail.com or @Vernal_Wisdom on Instagram.

Classes & Workshops

Move with Pride!

Have you been interested in trying pole or circus? Are you looking for a fun way to celebrate the start of pride month? Come join us for sliding scale workshops on June 4th and June 5th to learn from some amazing coaches in the LGBTQ2S+ communities. All proceeds from this event will go towards funding Rainbow Cirque’s inclusive, accessible programming for queer and trans youth. 

Sign up here 

Both workshops will take place at Redefine Fit (403 Danforth Ave) in Toronto Ontario.

Saturday June 4th Intro to pole with Elspeth and a gentle stretch with Jayeden. 

5:15-6:45 Pole workshop

6:45-7:00 Break

7:00-7:45 Stretching

A white background with a pride flag border. It reads: pole dance with Elspeth. Spinning, twirling, climbing and twisting around a 45mm chrome pole. A picture of a unicorn siting with their legs crossed on a pole is on the side.
A white background with a pride flag border. It reads: pole dance with Elspeth. Spinning, twirling, climbing and twisting around a 45mm chrome pole. A picture of a unicorn siting with their legs crossed on a pole is on the side.
A white background with the title: stretching with Jayeden. The text reads: stretching is a great Way to take care of your body. Gentle movements to thank your muscles. A picture of a dog doing downward dog is on the side.
A white background with the title: stretching with Jayeden. The text reads: stretching is a great Way to take care of your body. Gentle movements to thank your muscles. A picture of a dog doing downward dog is on the side.

Sunday June 5th Lollipop lyra with Cameron followed by a hula hoop jam with Lyza.

5:15-6:45 Lollipop Lyra workshop

6:45-7:00 Break

7:00-7:45 Hula hoop jam

A white background with a pride flag border. The title says lollipop with Cameron. The text reads lollypop lyra a mix between Aerial Hoop and a pole. You can sit and spin and trick all around it. An image of a lollypop with a stage the pole in the hoop is on the side.
A white background with a pride flag border. The title says lollipop with Cameron. The text reads lollypop lyra a mix between Aerial Hoop and a pole. You can sit and spin and trick all around it. An image of a lollypop with a stage the pole in the hoop is on the side.
A white background with a pride flag border. The title says hula hoop with Lyza. Come dance and play and move with hula hoops. An image on the side has a cartoon of a brown cat with a green hula hoop.
A white background with a pride flag border. The title says hula hoop with Lyza. Come dance and play and move with hula hoops. An image on the side has a cartoon of a brown cat with a green hula hoop.

What to bring: Water, snack 

What to wear: Clothes that you can move in

Day one – Shorts (for grip on the pole) 

Day two – Pants or something that covers the back of your knees 

Feel free to dress up for pride!

Getting there: 

The closest subway station to the studio is Chester station, which is a block away. The Danforth has bike lanes and spaces to lock your bike. Parking in the area is slightly limited so add a bit of time if you are driving. 

Access notes: 

The studio is on the second floor of a building and there are no elevators available. There are two gender neutral bathrooms, they do not have support bars. Seating is available in the space for participants who want to take breaks on chairs. 

The space has fluorescent overhead and track lighting, but we will use natural light from the windows and skylight when possible. Music, if used, will be kept at a low volume. 

We ask that folks keep this a low scent space and minimize the use of  perfumes and scented products before class. 

There is a sink available to fill up water bottles or cups. 

**Please reach out if you have any access needs, wants, or questions that aren’t met with the above info.**

Covid things: 

We are respecting the current guidelines of the space, which include masks, and the windows being open, weather pending. We will inform registered participants if anything changes. 

On the land: 

Our gathering will be situated upon the traditional territories of the Wendat, Haudenosaunee, Anishinabeg, Chippewa, and the Mississaugas of the Credit River. This territory is covered by the Dish With One Spoon Wampum Belt Covenant–an agreement between the Anishinabeg and Haudenosaunee allied nations to peaceably share and care for the lands around the Great Lakes. By living, working, and gathering on these lands we have a responsibility to take from and care for them responsibly. Including ongoing reconciliation work with the traditional and contemporary caretakers of this land.

This is a queer neurodiverse run, queer and trans focused space!

Reach out to us on instagram @rainbowcirque or email us rainbowcirque@gmail.com with any questions you have!

Workshops are sliding scale and open to everyone in the community and allies 16+! 

Sign up here 

Shows

Harbourfront Co-Motion Festival

Erin Ball and I are absealoutely thrilled to be performing at the upcoming CoMotion Festival celebrating Deaf and disability arts! We perform April 24 2pm & 4pm.

You can find free tickets to our show here! https://harbourfrontcentre.com/event/hoops/

Low vision friendly, integrated creative access for Red Dress.

Open audio description for Pirate Tales.

Low vision friendly descriptions will be offered during the workshop.

There will be an informal touch tour after the performances where audience members can engage with the performers and props. Priority will be given to blind or low vision patrons and anyone else who will benefit.

Audio Description Introductory Notes will be provided ahead of the performance and at the top of the show.

[Image Description A photograph of two white femmes on a hanging aerial ring. Jayeden wears a mermaid tail and outfit. She balances on her back inside of the hoop. Erin, a double below-knee amputee dressed as a pirate, hangs upside down from the top of the hoop with her hands on Jayeden’s tail as if in a handstand.]

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 Fempocalypse 2022

Erin Ball and I are excited to be showing some Pirate and Mermaid magic in this upcoming show! Our act will feature audio description and open captioning, with transcripts available, as well as ASL interpretation.

You can find the show here March 31st- April 8th 2022 https://nightwoodinnovator.wixsite.com/website

Fempocalypse is an annual fundraiser produced by Nightwood Theatre’s Innovators Program. This year’s show is a fundraiser for Water First, an organization that works to address water challenges in Indigenous communities in Canada. You can register for the event here (tickets are free, but folks are encouraged to donate to Water First here: https://www.canadahelps.org/…/fempocalypse-2022-neo…/

[ID: Colourful text on a black screen reads “Fempocalypse 2022 Neo-Stalgia” with a mouse cursor clicking the last word.]

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Pirate Tails Pride Performance. Live & Online

This family-friendly circus performance reimagines the childhood tropes of the pirate and the siren through lenses of Queerness and Disability. Join this high-flying hoop duo for some under the sea shenanigans. 

On Friday, June 25th 2021 join us at 6pm online for a YouTube premiere of the act, presented with audio description and open captions—with transcripts available in Word and PDF versions.  The same act, without visual description, will stream directly afterward in the presentation. The digital presentation will be available to stream all week long on YouTube!

On Saturday, July 3rd 2021 two outdoor live presentations of the act will take place. 

12PM Allen Gardens + 3PM Regent Park (Sumach-Shuter Parkette)

Click here for our Facebook event (updates and creation process photos)

In the event of rain, park popups will be moved to July 4th. Check back here for the update!

Access info: 

Digital Act:

The digital act is created with audio description and open captions—with transcripts available in Word and PDF versions. The same act, without visual description, will stream directly afterward in the same presentation. The digital presentation will be available to stream all weekend long!

Park Popups: 

As much as possible, we will try to position the show so that it can be viewed from shaded spaces and both grassy and paved terrain. 

We ask that the audience respect public health recommendations and practice physical distancing and masking as appropriate. We will have volunteers present to assist with this if necessary.

Both performances are intended to be relaxed. Please feel free to cheer, stim, move around, tend to your needs, and come and go as you please. 

Allen Gardens:

There is a paved pathway that enters in and out of the park.

Sidewalks and pathways surrounding and within the park are wide, all with sloped curbs. 

Public washroom: A portable in the parking lot beside the playground.  Not gendered, not wheelchair accessible.

Regent Park: Sumach-Shuter Parkette

Sidewalks and pathways surrounding and within the park are wide, all with sloped curbs. 

Pam McConnell Aquatic Centre is down the street and has indoor bathrooms. There are gendered stall bathrooms as well as a single-user bathroom with grab bars and an automatic door. There are also lots of businesses nearby with bathrooms.

It Takes a Village:

We extend our deepest gratitude to the wonderful team of humans who is making this possible.

Artists: Erin Ball- Pirate (she/her) & Jayeden W– Mermaid (she/her)

Presented as part of Buddies in Bad Times Theatre’s Pride in Place Programming.

Videographer: Olya Glotka

Coaching from: Meaghan Wegg

Poster by: Andra Ragusila

Dramaturge Consult: Anthony Yu

Audio Description: Becky Gold

Captions by: Closed Captions Services

Production Manager: Charissa Wilcox Flying Solo TO

Land Acknowledgment:

Our gathering will be situated upon the traditional territories of the Wendat, Haudenosaunee, Anishinabeg, and the Mississaugas of the Credit River. As well as the contemporary home to many Indigenous nations. 

This territory is covered by the Dish With One Spoon Wampum Belt Covenant—an agreement between the Anishinabeg and Haudenosaunee allied nations to peaceably share and care for the lands around the Great Lakes. By living, working, and gathering on these lands, we are responsible for taking from and caring for them responsibly. This includes ongoing reconciliation work with the traditional and contemporary caretakers of this land.

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Top Ten Circus Gifts

If you’re the parent or loved one of a circus human, chances are you’ve wondered about what kind of “circus gifts” they might appreciate. While buying a circus apparatus may seem like the obvious choice, it comes with a whole host of responsibilities (which I talk about here).There’s also a lot of specifics; do you choose high stretch or low stretch silks, single or double tab lyra, hollow or solid steel, or maybe aluminum? Purchasing an apparatus can be a big deal, not to mention it’s expensive! But that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck for circus gifts. As a circus professional and experienced coach, trust me when I say that there are plenty of great gifts for the circus human in your life. Here are my top 10.

  1. Circus Apparel
A young white woman sits on top of a suspended metal bar against a yellow background. She is holding a sign that reads Fit 2 Fly Apparel". Below her, an assortment of colourful leggings and tops are hanging off the bottom of the bar.

Toronto based apparel company Fit2Fly has you covered when it comes to training wear; and I mean that literally! As circus artists themselves Jen and her crew know exactly what areas of our bodies need to be covered for all of the glorious wrappy, droppy, spinny things we get up to as circus folk. Their pants are EXTRA high waisted to protect your sides from those nasty silk burns, and the cropped tops accentuate those awesome circus muscles! Plus, you’re supporting a local, woman owned business that employs artists and donates their fabric scraps to local organizations for craft supplies!

2. Circus Stories

A stack of books stands upright on a shiny table. The front cover is black and sleek with white text reading "Worlds Apart: an alternative journey to becoming a modern man. By Ronan Brady." Behind the text a muscular white man in only blue jeans spins on a large metal ring known as a Cyr wheel.
Ronan’s book Worlds Apart

One of the wonderful things about circus is the many different ways that folks find their way into it. While our communities are an easy home to plenty of retired gymnasts and converted theatre folk, this particular story stands out from the “usual” pathway to circus (if there’s such a thing as that). Before circus, Ronan was an Inter-county footballer and a secondary school teacher. In this witty, down to earth, and fantastically real narration, Ronan weaves together stories from his childhood, footballer days, and introduction to circus. His narrative is peppered with reflections of his evolving relationship to masculinity, from fighting just to do something, to performing onstage alongside drag queens. It’s a wonderful story that illustrates one of my favourite things about circus; that no matter where you come from, or what road brought you here, everyone belongs under the big top.

You can find Ronan’s book here: https://www.ronanbrady.me/

3. Eco glitter

A shiny gold bag is featured against a white and gold background. Below the bag sit three small containers, clear on the bottom with a wooden top.  Each small jar full of a different colour of glitter, white, green, and pink. The lids of the jars have a crescent moon on them.
Moon Shatter glitter. Click the image to head to their site

If you have a circus artist in your life, chances are they loveee glitter! The bummer about glitter though? Our aquatic ocean and lake friends aren’t too excited about all of the tiny bits of microplastic floating around in their home! Biodegradable glitter is better for everyone. This particular company, Moon Shatter, manufactures and packs their stuff in Toronto, so you’re doubling up on your eco points by supporting local and finding more sustainable alternatives! Click the image to head to their site.

4. Writing the Circus Zines

Pieces of folded paper with text on them are arranged orderly against a wooden floor. One of the piles of paper stands out, a yellow page with blurry images of humans and bold text that reads "Writing the Circus".
Photo from Ess of their handmaking zine process. Click the image to head to their site

 I wouldn’t be a recovering English major if I didn’t recommend at least two books on this list! In their zine series Writing the Circus performance artist Ess Hödlmoser blends critical thinking and lived experience to explore the histories and intersections of circus with cultural ideas. I have both editions of this series so far, and I love geeking out about the histories of circus arts and taking the time to think critically about the ways that our circus cultures are formed.

5. Ground Props

Eleven shiny juggling balls are featured against a white background. The balls range in colours, all of them with black panels, some with pink, purple, gold, and blue.
Click the image to head to their site

While I love aerial arts, there’s so much fun to be had on the ground as well. Juggle Gear is a Canadian based circus company that’s well stocked with everything a circus human could dream of. They have plenty of object manipulation props like juggling balls, diabolo, staffs, and clubs. It’s always good to have a few circus skills up your sleeves, and chances are the coordination and balance of juggling work will make you a better movement artist as well.

6. A Pullup Bar

Feminine white hands and wrists grip a black pullup bar as if hanging from it.

If you love someone who lives to hang, a pullup bar can be a great way to get some air time in without leaving the house. Not only will a pullup bar be a great addition to their living space, it also opens up a huge array of conditioning exercises to keep those aerial muscles in strong working order. Pro tip? If you’re able to make it work within the space, a doorframe mounted pullup bar is the MUCH stronger and safer option. Especially if you’re giving it to a circus human who will likely be going upside down on it.

7. Legwarmers

Three white women are smiling doing handstands against a wall. Two of the women are wearing black sparkly biketards with nude tights and bare feet. The midle woman is wearing a costume with a bright red top and leggings,overlayed with black shorts and legwarmers that cover her knees.

Not only are they great over your training leggings, legwarmers have a lot of uses in your training practice as well. I’m a big fan of wearing them to keep my muscles warm whenever I’m stretching splits, and I’ll occasionally take one off and fold it up as a kneepad if I’m stretching on harder dance studio floors. For hoop artists, a thick pair of legwarmers can keep you from looking like a banana after your training session. My favourite legwarmers consistently come from Sock Dreams an amazing company from Portland Oregon with great variety (check out their pride socks), community support programs, and a quality plus size collection.

8. Private Lessons

A young white woman, supports a young brown man as he hangs upside down on blue aerial fabric. Both people are smiling.

If you’re trying to give experiences instead of “things”, consider a private lesson for some 1:1 time with a favourite coach. Private lessons provide the opportunity to hone in on specific skills or sequences and to have a lot of focused attention from the instructor. They can be a great time to work on that skill you’ve been coveting, or to revisit something you’re struggling with for specific pointers. Many coaches offer private lessons outside of their regular class times, so feel free to get in touch with them about their rates and policies.

9. Massage Tools

A teal rubber peanut against a white background. It looks similar to rubber balls with a connecting piece.

In circus we ask a lot of our bodies, so it’s important to give back to them as well. I rarely go anywhere without my massage ball in tow, and I love a good foam roller session the day after training. Tiger Balm, a heating pad, or electric blanket are amazing sore muscle tools as well. You can easily find many of these things at sports or department stores. Bonus points if you come across a rubber “peanut” (pictured above) as there are sooo many prehab exercises that use this tool.

10. Online Classes

A young white woman does a downward dog position in a sunny room.

With covid forcing many artists and coaches to adapt, there are plenty of fantastic minds and bodies that are now offering online classes. You can now learn with people who were too busy touring, or lived very far away from you, without even leaving your living room. A few of my friends are:

https://www.instagram.com/joannegalligan/

https://www.instagram.com/flexy_t/

https://www.instagram.com/smillzdrillz/

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Should You Buy Aerial Silks for Your Kid?

Leading up to the winter holidays, I usually get a few emails from parents asking where they can buy their kids or teens one of those “fabric thingies” that they hang off in circus class. These are my favourite parents, the ones who ask a coaches’ opinion before purchasing professional aerial equipment that’s going to encourage their kids to hang off trees and teach their friends.

Because make no mistake, having access to a silk of their own will encourage your child to go hang it off of random structures.

How do I know? From lived experience. 

In 2012 at the age of 15 I bought my first aerial silk. She’s a bright coral beauty that I’ve performed on many times and still use today. At the time I was training at The Circus Company then known as Aerial Silks Collingwood. We were a small gym with about three very thin silks to learn on. Kristin, who ran the circus classes was ordering more fabric for the gym, and asked us if we wanted to add our very own silks to the order. I was ecstatic, and couldn’t think of a better way to use the money I had saved from my job at the vet clinic. 

The first time we hung our new silks, I climbed all the way up to the gym ceiling and stayed there for a very very long time. I swore I would never come down, but eventually my foot went numb and I was forced to concede to gravity. It was amazing to be able to take classes and practice routines on my very own aerial silk.

My first performance on her was spectacular. 

A young white teenager is suspended upside down on two pieces of pink aerial fabric. She is beaming.

I was utterly filled with joy to be able to do what I loved, on a silk of my very own, in front of hundreds of people. 

A young white woman slides down long pink aerial fabric. Behind her there is a photographer and a large crowd of people.

Having my own silk also encouraged me to learn about rigging—that’s how we hang things up in circus. It got me thinking about forces and loads and structural capacities (AKA looking at every ceiling everywhere and asking myself “could I hang from that”). I started learning about the kind of gear that you need to be using if your hanging your weight off of something; hint: it should have a kN rating or WLL before you even consider using it as circus gear. I took courses with rescue professionals and learned how to tie knots in spansets, practicing them at the gym around balance beams and at home around the kitchen table legs. I was mentored by our rigger and shadowed the other professionals I was working with when we set up for performances. I talked to climbers and read books by circus rigging professionals. I joined a Facebook group called “Safety in Aerial Arts” which featured a lot of critiques from industry professionals about sketchy setups, bad choices, and what NOT to do (though there was a lot of useful learning there too). I’ve taken some seminars with Brett Copes from Fight or Flight Entertainment who’s rigged for companies like Marvel Universe Live and Cirque du Soleil. All of this learning before I had even turned 18! Of course, I’ve continued with my education since then, always asking a million questions whenever people will answer them. But all of that is to say that in my first few years of owning silks I absorbed a lot of information on safety and best practices, and had a pretty great support team of people to practice under. 

And, I still took my silk out on “field trips” to hang off of structures outside of the gym. 

Two white teenage girls hang upside down on fabric draped over a swingset.

Granted, many of those were fairly reasonable well thought out adventures with a safety analysis, rigging plan, and at least one other circus person on site—sometimes even a consult with a rigger. A lot of those decisions I still stand by today (bridges are incredibly structurally sound for circusing purposes ). 

A young white woman hangs on pink aerial fabric over a calm stream. She is looking into the distance.

And I’ve collected some fantastic stories! Like the time that I went with one of my circus sisters and hung off a bridge in the town that I lived in. I had dreamed about it for months, drawn up a rigging plan, and even cross checked things with a rigging professional. Super safe teenage shenanigans—even if they did involve scaling a bridge and suspending ourselves above moving water. 

A young white woman is suspended over a calm river hanging off of two pink pieces of aerial fabric.

What we didn’t account for however, was the dam above the bridge opening up and soaking the bottom of our silks while we were on them! Or the middle aged woman who was concerned about our teenage shenanigans and loudly proclaimed that she was thinking of calling the cops on us. Luckily we don’t know if that ever went through because we united all of our knots and hightailed it out of there on our biked with the wet silks dripping from our backpacks.

A young white woman hangs suspended over a rushing river on two pieces of pink aerial fabric. Despite the chaos of the water, she appears relaxed.

While I stand by that adventure, and love the story of it. I’ve also done some more questionable things with my silks. Like for example hanging of trees. And not just hanging off trees, trying doubles work that involved my friend hanging off my arms while I was suspended upside down on the silks, with only patio furniture cushions as mats. (And yes I absolutely dropped her while she was upside down. She’s fine now, but that was definitely an avoidable mishap). 

A young white woman peeks out from within a hammock of pink aerial fabric. She looks happy. Behind her is a shed, the photo appears to be taken in a backyard. Underneath her there is nothing but a blanket.

I’ve also, in particularly questionable circumstances, done a double salto drop on a tree branch that had a rope slung over it. A setup I knew nothing about at the time and simply trusted the person who had set it up and their knowledge of rigging. Now if you’re not already aware, rigging on trees is really risky because there’s no way of knowing the health of the branch that you’re hanging off of (unless you cut it down). But doing drops on trees is generating an unnecessary amount of force and putting yourself and the tree in an absurd amount of risk. As a well educated professional, I definitely knew that it was a risky move when I did it. But to be honest, I probably went ahead with it because I was new to Toronto, I wanted to make friends, and I was seventeen and believed myself invincible.

In one particular circumstance of doing silks in the park I learned (after being on the fabric) that the point had been improperly tied off and I hadn’t been securely anchored on a closed system while I was in the air. Thank my guardian angels that nothing had happened, but it scares me to think of how that could have gone otherwise. And for the record here, I had all the tools to have known better and understand that this was a risky and unnecessarily dangerous move.

All of this to say, I suppose, that if you’re thinking of gifting your kid their very own aerial fabric, there’s a lot of stuff that comes along with it. Chances are that most youth won’t have access to the learning opportunities that I did when I was fifteen and sixteen, or the countless hours of mentorship to get hands on rigging experience. But what I’m sure they will have is the desire to hang off of anything and everything that they could possibly climb or throw a rope over.

Having your own circus equipment can be an absolute joy, and it lets you develop as an artist with consideration to the specifics of an apparatus that is yours and no one else’s. It’s truly special. And, if you’re only going to be hanging it up in a circus gym or studio it can be relatively safe as well. 

But, if you’re considering aerial silks as a gift (or any other aerial equipment). Make sure that you’re prepared to have an open and ongoing dialogue about safety and the appropriate places to “hang out” with this new friend (which absolutely does not include trees). And if you’re considering an at home circus set up? Well, that’s a whole other bucket of peanuts to talk about!

Hugs and sparkles! 

xo, 

Jayeden