In October, I attended a Caroline Calouche & Co performance, “Animalia” (read here). The show included aerial cirque acts such as the lyra (hoop), silks, and trapeze. I found it fascinating. So much so that it made me want to experience it for myself. The only “acrobatic” experience I have is doing gymnastics from the ages of 4-5. It was a fun activity as a young kid, but I soon found myself more drawn to basketball and running instead. But after seeing “Animalia” and seeing how beautiful and fun the acts looked, I felt the urge to try it.
Six months later and I found myself in the Caroline Calouche & Co studio with two of my best friends standing in front of the trapeze bar. I’d gotten in touch with the company and had signed up for a beginner trapeze class. Our instructor, Sarah, had been doing aerial cirque acts for ten years and trapeze for nine and a half. She was more than talented in cirque.
The first thing Sarah led us through was stretching. We had to stretch out our arms and legs as trapeze requires a lot of strength and stability. After stretching, Sarah explained the different components of the trapeze bar, including the bar itself, the “elbows” (the sides of the bar) and the ropes. Then, it was time to go. First, we had to get up on the trapeze bar, which, frankly, was the most challenging part, in my opinion. I thought it would be pretty easy to get up there by swinging up my legs and hanging from the bar with them and then just pulling myself up with my arms. No, it was not simple. It took so much time and energy to get my legs up and to hang by my legs. And then I still had to pull the rest of my body up with my arms. By the time I finally got up on the bar, I felt exhausted but also accomplished.
I stayed up on the bar the whole time, so I didn’t have to try and get back on and go through that struggle again. The trapeze bar is even more uncomfortable than it looks. First of all, the bar and ropes are very rough, and one of my palms was bleeding halfway through class. Second of all, the bar is very thin and extremely uncomfortable. When we were doing sitting poses, it was very painful to be sitting on the bar. I thought that would be resolved when we stood up on the bar, but that ended up being quite painful on the feet. Regardless of the discomfort, it felt pretty cool to be standing on the top of a trapeze bar. Sarah showed us how to do several sitting and standing poses.
Trust is a big part of trapeze. When told to let go with one arm and stick out your leg in the air, you have to trust your body that you will not fall and that you are strong enough to hold on. My friend did fall one time, but luckily there were cushioned mats below us to keep us safe. The other thing about trapeze is that the bar has a mind of its own a lot of times. I found that my bar kept slowly spinning in circles which made it even more difficult to try and execute poses correctly, and it also made me pretty dizzy.
Ultimately, I successfully executed several sitting and standing poses, and while I did not look like a professional acrobat, I think I did pretty well for a beginner. Our bodies felt like jelly after, and we were sweating and exhausted and were extremely sore for several days, but we also felt a sense of fulfillment. I still think it’s pretty cool that I did a trapeze class with zero experience and that I gave it my all. Trying new things can be exciting and scary but can also boost confidence and remind you how wonderful you are.