Presenting Aerial Arts Association!
Four months ago, I sat down for coffee with Karri Mae Becker, owner and founder of national lyra certification program, CirqFit. While we caught up, we started talking about lyra, the aerial apparatus that Karri has been launching Cirqfit programs around at Crunch gyms nationwide.
“There is a real thirst for lyra because it is perhaps a more accessible apparatus for beginners than pole or silks seem to be,” she told me.
I realized that after over a year of teaching lyra at SF Pole & Dance, I’d come to a similar conclusion. Many people who come to SF Pole and Dance for the lyra instruction end up moving around to other apparatus’ like pole and silks. The lyra ends up feeling a little bit like an aerial gateway apparatus to the larger world of aerials for a few simple logistical reasons.
For one, you can rest in it (by sitting, and not having to use your leg muscles). As well, you can hang it closer to the ground so that it is easier to get into and work with. Many of the tricks have multiple contact points for the lower body and the trunk thus relying on less of the upper body to do the work. As well, there are plenty of beautiful movements that can be danced on the ground using the lyra to move under making it a performative apparatus as well.
Of course, lyra is not in itself easy. Building the strength to get into the hoop often ends up taking multiple classes for students to achieve. But as lyra hits more and more mainstream gym-goers, an interesting question for us is then how we develop the sport of lyra into more of an artistic pursuit.
Karri and I both come from a pole dance background. I run SF Pole and Dance in San Francisco, while Karri ran a pole dance studio, Pole Pressure, in D.C. for over 5 years before taking on a leadership role at Crunch gyms and transferring to the Bay Area. The pole world is known for our competitions. We have PSO, a competitive arena that is focused on balanced programming, Pole Theatre, with an emphasis on storytelling and NCPP, a showcased based non-competitive pole competition here in the Bay Area among many others.
In pole dancing, it is not uncommon for people to spend a couple of years building up a toolbox of tricks and movement and then signing up for their first competition to showcase that movement by developing a routine that facilitates their growth as artists and performers. Putting aside the many Facebook arguments you’ll see about whether this is in fact a ‘good’ trajectory (I believe it usually is but that is it’s own blog entry), this performative aspect does not really exist for lyra enthusiasts or performers beyond the student showcase variety.
Karri and I saw this as an opportunity to create a platform for lyra students, enthusiasts, and performers to showcase their talent on a stage with performers from other studios, cities, states and even other countries. Since we launched, we’ve gotten international interest and anticipate that of the 60 performance slots available at the Fog City inaugural event, there will be a rich diversity of performers showcasing their talent from all over the world.
With Fog City, our aim is to create an artistic opportunity the same way that the pole community provides that for all levels. We are so excited to create this platform through Aerial Arts Association and can’t wait to see what happens on the stage!
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