What is Aerial Acrobatics/Dance

Aerial Acrobatics is a performance art that continues to grow to this day. It makes use of an apparatus such as The Corde Lisse or Spanish Web, Silks, Static Trapeze, Lyra, and Straps that hang from a ceiling rigging point or a free standing rig

Unlike Traditional Gymnastics where only bars are use to swing from and Rings are used to perform certain routines from, aerial acrobatics allows a more interpretive, stylistic, and creative edge.

Corde Lisse

Corde Lisse is a single rope wrapped in a sleeve.  This is no ordinary gym class rope. If you thought climbing up and down the rope was hard this takes that and adds coordination and memory…lots of memory.  Think Rubics Cube, Yoga, and Dance all together. That’s Corde Lisse. In My opinion the Corde Lisse is one of the 2 strength based Apparatuses and by that I mean in terms of over all strength requirements to even use the rope in the first place. Here is the great Holly Dison training Corde Lisse at AeroTerra Arts set at Core Crossfit

A video posted by Holly Dison (@hdison) on

Corde Lisse can also have a Strap added to the top to become a Spanish Web for partner based swinging acrobatics.  You can see what I mean in this link of Cirque De Soleil at the end of a famous Quidam Piece

Still another great thing about Corde Lisse is that you can do release moves.  A release move is when you swing or flip in some fashion let go of the Rope and then regrab it again.  Rope is easy to spot and easy to grab making it a great apparatus for release skills. Here’s me attempting a release move.


A photo posted by Nick Wolff (@nickwolff21) on

The Straps are another strength based Aerial Apparatus.  Mainly Because they designed to be used mostly with just the arms, but there are ways to use it with the legs. They most closely resemble the Gymnastics Rings because you can do most of the same skills on both, except Rings don’t squeeze your arms like an Anaconda… One of my favorite movement performers that also does Straps is Lewie West

Static Trapeze

francesco and Khrystia Trapeze duet

Next up we have Static Trapeze. Not to be confused with a flying trapeze.  A static Trapeze usually has two rigged points but can be rigged to a single point to allow it to spin.  This is probably third in line for strength requirements because it can move a lot and combines both ropes and a horizontal bar which makes it a fascinating tool to work with.  At first glance most people would just want to swing on it, but to your surprise there are endless ways to wrap yourself up, weave in and out of the ropes, and go over and under it.  My first introduction to Aerial Acrobatics was through Static Trapeze and I liked that it had a familiar element of high bar from gymnastics and also the use of the ropes for creativity. I have seen a couple of release moves on Trapeze but they are tricky. Below is Video of Khrystia St Lucia (also my soon to be wife :p) doing a new transitional skill on the trapeze.

New trick

A video posted by @khrystiastlucia on


Khrystia St Lucia Knee hang Split Silks

Silks are a single long piece of “2-way stretch polyester lycra or Tricot Nylon that is looped and knotted through a special carabiner to create two strands of tissue of any length you want running down beside each other from their rigging point. The best thing about Silks is that they can be turned into so many different tools.  If held together they are a rope, if apart they are straps, if tied in a certain fashion they become a hammock. And they can be pulled apart making a draping cape affect. You can see just a couple of applications of silks below.

The only problem with the silks is that there is so much fabric that it can sometimes get away from you as a beginner practitioner.  I can tell you personally that even though I am strong I struggle a lot with the silks because they can move around a lot easier.  Also release moves, if ever done, are a lot riskier because of the chance missing the silks.


The Lyra is a giant hoop suspended either from a single point or a double point that goes into a single point at the rigging location as seen below with Khrystia and Holly.

Khrystia Blue Ice Queen Lyra

A photo posted by Holly Dison (@hdison) on

But you can see here in this photo from Aerial Arts FAQs that there are many other ways to rig that offer other performance options.


Khrystia St Lucia Holly Dison Leanna DianeThe Lyra is great for super long performances because you can rest inside the circle in different poses like a hanging sculpture. The mere shape of it is very beautiful and pleasing to the eye even when the performer is not in motion. Because the Lyra technically has two strong horizontal supports it is excellent for multiple people acrobatics.



It is also one of the easier apparatuses to directly decorate because it has so few moving parts.  Look what Khrystia did with a single set of RGB LEDs. It adds another element to an already beautiful apparatus.

Aerial Acrobatics or Aerial Dance is a great way to combine climbing, flexibility, dance, coordination and strength training all into one.  If you get a chance come check out our classes schedule at our AeroTerra Arts Aerial Facility




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