Aerial Awareness. Or, I Am A Cat

Many moons ago, after my first step off the board, I became addicted to flying trapeze. As my addiction grew, of course, I wanted to learn more and more. And involved in that more and more was flying without safety lines.

In order to reach my goal, there were tests that I needed to pass. Honestly, at the time, it felt like the powers that be were just stalling me for time, but looking back at it now, I know that it was all for good reason. I spent a LOT of time on the trampoline working on those seat drops (easy), swivel hips (easy), back drop (awkward but easy), stomach drop (scorpioned one or two, but got it), a few other moves that include the word drop, and the dreaded back drop to back drop. (Check this site if you want to learn more trampoline stuff.)

What all of this trampolining was teaching me was aerial awareness. Or, in layman’s terms, the ability to know where my body is in the air in relation to the super hard ground. After I finally reached my goal and was given the green light to take my first swing without safety lines, I knew one of the most amazing feelings on earth. There is almost nothing as freeing as sailing through the air, feeling and hearing the wind rush past your face and ears. LOVE! Now add a little flip, twist, or boost into the air and life has gotten even better.

I was able to continue my journey without safety lines for quite some time before that trampoline training actually came into play. You see, I’m a creature of habit and I get distracted when things are outside of the norm. So, on that fateful day, when there were about 5 people on the board rather than our usual 2 or 3, yes, I was distracted.

Let me preface the next part of this story with this: I have issues with pointing my toes. I know 1000% full well how awful flexed feet look in a performance (when it isn’t intentional). I work on it, I really do, but sometimes, my feet just want to be flexed.

I took off the board, throwing my uprise shoot (click to see video…not of me). Distracted. Not thinking of every detail of the trick. Down to my feet. My damnned flexed feet. My damnned flexed feet that caught on the bar and took me from uprise shoot to downward dive in a millisecond. A full trapeze trick from board to catcher and back to the board lasts about about 15 seconds. Practicing that trick to the net about half that time. In that about 8 seconds of trick time, about 1.5 of those are spent going to the net. 1.5 seconds is not a long time. Except if you’re falling head first towards the net. Time slows down when you just might break your neck.

Aerial Awareness training, ACTIVATE! Form of, a trampoline! Shape of, the person practicing on that nice, safe trampoline!

So here’s what’s going through my head in those 1.5 seconds: Tuck? Take it to my back? Tuck? Take it to my back? OSHITHERECOMESTHENETJUSTUCKANDSAVEYOURLIFE!!!! And so I tucked it in and landed nice and safely. I think I scared a person or two. But I made it. All that trampoline work was not for naught. Thank you.

Fast forward twelve years. Geez….twelve years. I’m in the studio and I’m trying a new move. Not odd to be trying a new move. Not smart to be trying a new move when I don’t have an out. When I’m head to the floor. When I don’t have a crash mat. And for whatever reason, however it happened, because I honestly couldn’t tell you, in that split second, I was not on the pole. Not with my hands, not with my legs, or feet, or with anything. And you know what? Aerial awareness training kicked in. I don’t think that I “thought”. I simply reacted. I don’t know how it happened, but with my head barely four feet off the floor, I somehow managed to get my feet to the floor first. I am a cat.

I like keeping all of my parts in their full and working capacities, so I likely won’t be making that mistake again. I hope that if you are on the pole trying something new that you won’t do what I do. That you’ll always know your out. That you’ll always have a spot. That you’ll always have a crash mat. Please. I want you around to hear my next rambling post. 🙂

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