How does a mini-movement become an aerialist’s best friend?
Once Monica and I were teaching a spectacular drop which requires lots of height (8m !!), to a group of well trained dancers. It should have been a “tada” moment, but it wasn’t. “What happened!” we asked. A couple of dancers complained that they felt as if they had whiplash. We were surprised and even panicked!
These dancers had a lot of experience. They look like superheroes, with tights included. We kept asking more questions. We even demonstrated the drop one more time. Then we realized that although these aerialists had many years of experience, they had never met the only movement that can maintain them in this specialized performing art for the long run.
In the business of aerial dance, we tend to perform a lot of drops, static figures, slides, etc. These tricks are like those friends that you always invite to your party because they are popular, impressive or beautiful. Most of the time, we forget the simple movements: the ones that are not very popular, maybe because of their discretion. These movements are friends that should be so close to you that their execution becomes second nature.
The hollow position is subtle, humble and reliable. Borrowed from gymnastics, this movement opens the door to effortless inverted positions on any apparatus. Additionally it grants strength to the core muscles and prevents injuries in the lower back and neck.
When practicing the hollow position, it’s best to master it on the floor before attempting it on any apparatus. Lay on the floor and contract the abdominal muscles, in order to elongate the lower back and press it flat on the floor. Make sure to engage your entire anterior core by lifting your arms and legs off the floor. Bring your chin slightly down and lock the position. How long you are able to hold the position will depend on your level of strength. We believe that, at the beginning, less is best. 15 seconds is a good and reasonable number. Repeat that count 3 times, then gradually increase the count until you can hold it for 60 seconds, 3 times.
In our upcoming book about the technique of aerial dance, we present the hollow position in various forms. We also demonstrate different ways in which to practice this position. We consider it an essential movement from which aerial dancers should transition from one position to another. Like any close relationships, hollow position is a long term commitment. Mastering it will help students to protect their body and enhance their aerial performance skills.