Aerial Sun Salutation

This class of aerial dance was taught by Monica Newsam, teacher in the Department of Dance at Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri on December 16, 2014. This is a multi-level class that is open to all students enrolled in this university.

Today we will discuss how yoga techniques in conjunction with aerial dance can be used to improve our training.

Did you know what the Aerial Sun Salutation is?

In yoga, the sun is worshiped as a symbol of health and immortality. The sun salutation is rooted in a number of positions traditionally performed at dawn. Sun Salutation is a sequence of twelve positions performed as one continuous exercise. Each position is against the previous one, alternately expanding and contracting the body while regulating breathing.

In the aerial sun salutation we offer today, we use the apparatus called fabrics that not only separates and lifts us above the ground; but also allows the suspension of the dancers. In our aerial sun salutation we merged its traditional essence with aerial tricks to create a new relationship with space.

During execution we use the concept of expanding and contracting the body while alternately breathing is regulated through deep squats (plies) with legs together or separately; additionally, we include fluid movements of arms and the port de bras. Simultaneously, we connect with the device either, as a fulcrum or point of suspension and introduce inverted positions as “the Christ” and “straddle”. We conclude the sequence organically with spinning and balance back flat on the fabric to the delight of the performers.

Why?

The aerial sun salutation warms up the entire body, building strength in the deep muscles of the abdomen and extremities while improving the flexibility of the spine, joints and slims the body. This sequence is designed to stimulate the spirit, mind and, prepare the body for the purpose of continuing to more intense physical activities.

4 Comments

Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

Nicolette Gremaud
April 14, 2015 at 9:18 pm

I really enjoyed watching this video! I take have taken classes with Monica for two semester now and I love it! I prefer her class over other aerial classes because we learn more than just tricks. We learn how to smoothly transition and really dance with the music while doing aerial! The Sun Salutation is just a warm up in class, but it is still important to move with the music, focus on clean transitions, and actually dancing with the music, not just dancing to the music. Aerial Sun Salutations has helped me become more flexible than just regular Sun Salutations because I use the silks to help stretch my muscles using gravity. Monica also really focuses on teaches us how to properly lengthen our muscles to get a better stretch without hurting ourselves. Also, after taking this class, I understand the importance of proper breathing and relaxing/lengthening my muscles to maximize the benefits of Sun Salutations. After Sun Salutations we finish warming up with plie, tendu, etc. combinations. The classes start off more slowly with Sun Salutations to safely warm up the body for the more difficult tricks and movements at the end.

Michael Williams
April 24, 2015 at 6:32 am

Sun Salutation is an excellent and distinct blend of breath, strength and flexibility. The movement of the spine affects the movement and readiness of the mind, the strength of the breath affects the flexibility of the mind, and the flexibility of mind and body allow for the fluidity needed in aerial dance routines of any kind. An element I had not considered closely before was the theme of contraction and expansion of the body. This increases and decreases speeds in spins and is vital to the creations of appealing shapes in the air. This contraction and expansion, however is also responsible for the work in the deep muscles. I personally have a tendency to carry a lot of stress in my outer muscles and cannot find strength in my deep muscles until they are relaxed and stressed. All of these elements are connected thoroughly, and the apparatus is like another part of our body to employ in our dancing. This makes sun salutation a vital part of preparation for aerial dance.

Eden
April 25, 2015 at 7:15 pm

The time and preparation is takes to work above ground appears to be just as, or even more important than working in the air, according to this video. Stretching the body as a whole in tandem with the apparatus reminds the dancer how they should be using the equipment in the air as well as on the ground. Everything in aerial dance requires great amount of strength and grace. All of these dancers seem to respect the seamless nature of this art form and commit to smooth movements, even when it is especially challenging. One of my favorites moments was the tying of the silks onto the dancers body. The majority of movements in aerial dance are practical and necessary, however the really excellent dancers are able to make them look somewhat secondary, which is quite remarkable.

Sarah Harmon
May 4, 2015 at 2:22 pm

It is so interesting to see how many beautiful ways the fabric can be utilized and placed on the body. Watching this clip, I recognized a lot of the same movements from our sun salutations we are exploring this year, just with a different position and set up of the fabric. When the salutation flows together, it really starts to look like a dance. Seeing the group doing the movements in unison is lovely. You had a much larger group last semester! A movement I haven’t seen before that struck me was when Monica was in a 4 position upside down, and then wrapped the two pieces around her from behind to help support her. It flowed together so seamlessly. She made it look effortless. I know for me, as a beginner, I still struggle with finding the strength to keep myself up for long periods of time, but I’m starting to think that it is also just a mindset thing. I think I need to trust my bodies abilities more and just find more length and grace while going through our salutations next time in class. When I doubt myself, is when my body begins to feel weak. This video is very inspiring and shows that there are many other variations of how the fabric can be used. It is such a beautiful thing to watch!

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