Tell me everything: How do I improve my artistry?

People find circus and enjoy it for many different reasons. Some, like I was, are looking for a good workout while others are interested in being part of a new community. There are those that want to do cool tricks and have had a taste of circus and just want to try. What keeps me, and others, coming back, though, is the potential to create art with these cool tricks and newfound strength. Once you’ve scratched the surface and find that you want to perform and create like our amazing students in May’s showcase, you may start to wonder how you can develop and improve your artistry in the air.

First, I want to say that this is not a quick process (not that that should be a surprise to us circus folk). I have been working on my artistry for years and continue to do so every time I practice. I am by no means an expert, but hopefully you can learn something from the lessons I have been through. For me, artistry has two parts- the physical and the mental.

I think that those who come to aerial as adults for a workout struggle the most with the mental, creative aspect of this. I know I did! How do I spark and build my creativity? Practice playing. Somewhere I got it into my head that everything was supposed to be right and perfect all the time and mistakes were to be avoided. This is the opposite of play! You have to let go of the fear of looking stupid or being wrong because there is no wrong way to play. In aerial, find safe places on and off of your apparatus and figure out what your body can do. What do you like the feeling of? What do you like the look of? Feel free to explore the shapes you make and the way you move. Do certain movements make you feel a certain way? Do you move in a specific way when you are angry (my favorite way to move) or when sad? What feels good and safe? Again, this will not happen the first time you try. Even play requires practice, especially if you need to overcome your inner perfectionist! Improvise movement on the floor, in open studio, or ask your instructor for some improvisation time. We are here to build you up and I know that each one of my students has an amazing voice in movement that I cherish each time it is shared with me.

The second part of artistry is the predictable one. The stronger, more flexible, and more knowledgeable you are, the more options for safe and creative movements you have. Sometimes restrictions can help ignite creativity, but when you want to fully express yourself, you want as many options as possible. Build your strength, work on your flexibility, and learn new skills and theory to improve your knowledge of your apparatus. This will expand your available options for creative movement and open up a new world of possibilities.

I cannot wait to see you play!

-Tricia Melka