Aerial silks provides workout

Hanging 40 feet off the ground, the circus performer is suspended by just an aerial silk. 1… 2… 3… she releases the fabric that is surrounding her hands and drops down ending in an upside down position.

Circus teacher and performer Maria-Elena Marso said, “Aerial silks is a modality within circus arts. The technique was adapted from rope, straps, and Roman Rings.”

According to, the basics of the aerial silk involve a performer who climbs up a hanging fabric anywhere from 20-50 feet high, and uses the fabric to wrap, fall, spiral, swing, and contort their body.

“It is a comprehensive workout for the entire body. It helps with coordination and neurological sequencing,” Marso said.

One major draw to participation in aerial silks is that it improves strength that may be needed for other sports.

Twelve year-old aerialist Emily Buda said, “Doing silks has helped me with gymnastics, flexibility, and definitely strength because of the arm and leg work. You need to have to be able to climb the silks and hold yourself up.”

According to, aerial silks was founded by Andre Simard, who was a developer of acrobatic moves for Cirque du Soleil. While Simard developed aerial silks in the 1990s, it did not go to the mainstream circus until more recently. Exercising with aerial silks has a lot of fans and is becoming increasingly popular.

“The aerial fabrics of the past wouldn’t effectively hold a person’s weight. Today’s polyester and tricot weaves have the tensile strength of steel,” Marso said.

According to, the silks are a fun way for kids of all ages to express themselves while being active. Doing aerial silks combines exercise, music, flexibility, creativity, and facial expressions in a unique way.

Buda said, “I love the thrill you get up in the air and while doing drops.”

Aerialists have to feel comfortable with the aerial silks and learn to do death-defying tricks and drops from great heights. Marso feels that it is important for kids to take part in aerial silks because it builds strength through flexibility and provides systematic learning benefits.

“I enjoy being in the air,” Marso said. “It reminds me of being a child and climbing in the playground!”