Every endeavor has its lingo. In this case, there are even varying names for the endeavor itself. There’s “aerial silk,” “aerial ribbons,” “aerial contortion,” or “tissu”—French for “fabric”– to describe work in the air in which “performers climb suspended fabric without the use of safety lines, and rely only on their training and skill to ensure safety.”
At Hollywood Aerial Arts, it’s called “tissu” and there’s a lot more than a new spelling for me to learn.
“Crochet” means wrapping your hand or foot in the fabric, instead of grabbing it directly. You get more purchase that way and let me tell you that friction is your friend when working with the cloth. Rosin or a “tuf skin” spray can help too.
Climbing is self-explanatory, and climbing up the silks is a lot harder than it sounds or
looks. In fact my first-time climb barely even merits the term. More like a little baby scoot up the fabric, with Tammy providing encouragement for each millimeter.
“Footlock,” is when the fabric is wrapped around your foot just so, so you can stand up on it. PAINFUL.
“Drop” is a controlled fall in which the fabric is wrapped around the body in various ways
I’m standing there, on the super thick mat, hands crocheted overhead trying to kick my feet overhead and catch my toes in the fabric, er, tissu, and make an upside down basket. Whew. I used to do this stuff when I was a kid. Seemed easy them.
“Lower your arms some,” instructs Tammy. “Think about it, if your arms aren’t so high, you won’t have to kick your legs as high to get them up.”
If there’s only thing I’ve learned from the yoga, it’s that being upside down makes it harder to think. You can’t think about it. Just have to DO IT.
On the fourth try I make it, sort of, but am more proud than my eight year-old self ever was. Fun. Fun. Fun. For sure I’m coming back next week to try this again.