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Transformation Through Aerial Arts: A Student's Journey

Student on Aerial Silks
Caroline Wehby

Beyond the spotlight and applause lies a realm of dedication, perseverance, and boundless creativity in the world of aerial arts. In our exploration of this captivating art form, we had the privilege of delving into the experiences of a student's aerial journey, who has become deeply entrenched in the enchanting world of aerial silks as a devoted enthusiast. Join us as we uncover the unique insights and journey of Caroline, who has been a student at Miss Fit Academy in Nashville, TN for a few years now.


A Student's Aerial Journey: An Interview with Caroline


Can you share some of the challenges you faced when you began training in aerial silks, and how did you overcome them?


My biggest challenge is listening to my body, especially when I am tired. I love learning and I become very excited trying new skills. I have put myself in situations that have resulted in injury because of this excitement. Aerial arts has opened a lot of doors in my own journey when it comes to listening to my body- how my body feels when it is tired vs. scared vs. excited vs. stressed etc. and meeting my needs according to these messages. I would say it is less about overcoming this challenge and more about meeting myself with grace and compassion every day knowing that this has been a challenge for me at times. 


What has been the most rewarding aspect of your journey in aerial arts so far?


Oof where do I even start? Movement in aerial arts has allowed a space to explore introspectively. It has allowed the place to grow in my body awareness. It has forced me to challenge my relationship with fear. It has asked me to meet myself where I am- even moment by moment. It has provided me with a welcoming community of awesome folks. It has offered the tools in which I can playfully create. It has lifted me to enter into moments of true embodiment.


What are some common misconceptions about aerial arts that you would like to dispel?


Definitely would love to dispel the idea that movement within aerial arts has to be "perfect" and with a traditional "circus-flare"- although that is also uniquely beautiful in its own right. Pointed toes vs flexed feet. Straight legs vs micro-bends. Challenging the rigidity of perfection and allowing more expression in each individual dancer's form. All of it is deserving of appreciation in the aerial space. 


Can you describe a particularly memorable or significant moment in your aerial arts journey?


So many to choose from- but I will probably have to go with the first time I Russian-climbed in a silks 101 class. I remember the adrenaline rush of climbing to the top.. met with a sense of familiarity and understanding that I hoped to explore this form of movement for a long time.


How do you maintain physical and mental health while training and performing aerial arts?


For me, it has meant sitting in the recognition that my physical health and my mental health are immensely connected. One doesn't exist without the other. Reminding myself that aerial arts is a physically and a mentally demanding art. Knowing that exercise is "controlled physical stress" on my body. Checking in with myself and naming what I am feeling before training- then recognizing what I am needing: Maybe it is a high-intensity training session, maybe it is noodling around with silks and barely climbing, or maybe it is going home and resting. Being someone who deals with chronic illness, nurturing this connection between mental and physical health has changed my life in many ways.


Have you encountered any setbacks or injuries along the way, and how have you dealt with them?


Yes, I have torn both hamstrings (left worse than the right) and separated my shoulder/dislocated my collar bone. I spent about 6 months continuing to dance with torn hamstrings before I injured my shoulder which finally forced me to take a break. I don't think I realized how disconnected I was to my body's pain signals until I chose to rest. Re-learning this communication pathway has been integral in my aerial journey as well as my personal growth in self-compassion and -understanding.


What advice would you give to someone who is interested in starting aerial arts?


Welcome! Listen to your body. There is no wrong or right way in executing a skill (as long as safety is not a risk then yes there is a wrong way). Remain open-hearted and enjoy the ride.  


What does the future of aerial arts look like to you, and how do you see yourself contributing to it?


I am remaining curious and open to what the future of aerial arts holds for me. I am hoping to continue to explore improvisational movement within aerial, to partake in a collective flow state with other dancers, and to create art in personal and public spaces that allow for the witnessing of expression through aerial movement. 


A special thanks to Caroline for taking time out of her busy schedule to talk about her passion. It is always a pleasure to get to know our students better! If you have always wanted to try an Aerial class, whether it be Silks, Hoop (Lyra), and/or Hammock we have a wonderful class selection to choose from. From novice to professional performer, there is something for every adult here. Just click on our Class Schedule for the current class schedule.

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