Dance Style Glossary
you buy any silks, fabric, or equipment, or sign up for
classes, you need to know the options available:
(aka Aerial Silk, Aerial Tissue, Flying Silks, or
Tissu is the art of suspended dance. It is grace and beauty
incarnate. At times static, at times dynamic, and at all
times mesmerizing, this acrobatic performance art captivates
its audiences. Known by many names, it is sometimes called
Flying Silks, Aerial Tissue, Aerial Silk, Aerial Chiffon,
Aerial Fabric, Aerial Curtain, and Aerial Dance, among others.
"Tissu" means "fabric" in French, and
is a fitting description for this cirque-inspired dance
form because the performers dance on long fabric silks.
can have many different backgrounds to learn Aerial Tissu.
Dancers, contortionists, gymnasts, acrobats, and even yoga
enthusiasts can pick up this skill fairly easily. It requires
both grace and strength.
tissu artists captivate audiences with their daring drops,
powerful climbs, and elegant poses while suspended on dual
silks. Aerial tissu acts are often paired with aerial lyra
/ hoop, aerial straps, aerial hammock, aerial bungee, and
circus-style contortion / balancing acts.
also known as aerial silk, tissue, fabric, or curtain, is
a long fabric apparatus suspended from the ceiling or rigging
on which the aerialist performs poses, climbs, drops, contortions
and dance on two pieces of hanging fabric, suspended in
the air. The dancer can hang two or three stories in the
Aerial Hoop (aka Lyra, Circeau, Cerceau,
is similar to tissu, and many dancers are adept at both.
Poses, spins and drops are performed on a hanging metal
hoop or ring suspended in the air. The spins add drama and
excitement to hoop routines. Because the hoop does not need
to hang from tall ceilings, sometimes this is performed
close to the ground.
Static Trapeze (aka Single-Point
some ways, static trapeze is similar to hoop, in that it
can be hung close to the ground while still offering drama
and a great focal point for a routine. This consists of
a metal bar hanging from dual ropes. The dancer can hang
from the bar, but the ropes also provide the opportunity
for moves from a dancer's aerial tissu repertoire.
Spanish Web (aka Rope)
consists of a rope wrapped in a cotton fabric covering.
It can be used like fabric for many moves, but where fabric
is hung in two pieces, there is only one rope. That, any
moves on tissu which require holding the fabric in two separate
hands does not translate well to spanish web. The artist
can attach a hand-loop towards the top of the apparatus
via which a performer can slip an ankle or wrist. Sometimes
one dancer will stand below, spinning the rope in large
circles around the aerial performer's body, spinning the
aerialist into death-defying motion.
Aerial Hammock (aka Aerial Sling)
is one fabric piece that is hung so that it loops back up
to the ceiling. The performer generally envelops him or
herself in the fabric sling, making amazing shapes and movement
within the fabric. The drama and beauty created by the every
movements captivates audiences.
Chains (aka Aerial Metal)
chains are hung in two from the ceiling, similar to aerial
tissu but using only the metal chains as the climbing apparatus.
The artist can attach hand or foot loops, or can climb using
only hands and feet. The chains give this dance form an
edgy, dangerous feel. This style is paired well with any
of the fire elements described below.
walkers have been around since the early days of the circus.
This is a staple at parades, performances, and celebrations.
The performer wears tall stilts and eccentric costumes to
create excitement and drama. Especially popular with children,
stilt walkers are always a hit at any venue.
Hand Balancing (aka Body Balancing)
dancers balance on the ground and on each other to pose
in seemingly impossible balancing acts which fascinate audiences.
This skill requires a lot of practice and trust between
performers to get this to look effortless.
is one element common to most of the skills listed above.
A dancer will bend into poses which show off flexibility
and grace. A background in dance or yoga is recommended
before someone studies this difficult form.
any element can be used with fire to create drama in darker
performance areas. Because of the risks, fire elements should
not be introduced near fabric or other flammable apparatus.
However, aerial chains or other metal-based apparatus can
more safely be incorporated into the same routine as a fire