Air Apparent | Resident spreads love of aerial performance
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – Part dance, part acrobatics, Tahoe Aerial Arts is an exercise in three dimensions.
South Shore resident Allison Meetze, 30, recently created the aerial performance instruction business to share her love of an art that can be graceful in its gravity defiance.
“I’ve always loved to dance and I was really into rock climbing. When I started (aerial performance) I just liked being off the ground and up in the air,” Meetze said Thursday. “It gave me the opportunity to be artistic as well as athletic. It’s just nice to see things from a different perspective.”
The yoga instructor’s interest in aerial performance began about eight years ago when she saw a circus performer practicing on Tonsai Beach in Thailand.
“I had never seen anything like it before,” Meetze said prior to leading a class at South Tahoe CrossFit on Monday.
Meetze immediately sought instruction in her former city of Los Angeles, but bought her own equipment and began teaching herself when two days a week wasn’t enough. She’s sharpened her skills enough to turn performance into a profession, demonstrating aerial maneuvers for conventions and at the Vex nightclub.
Her instruction focuses on the aerial hoop, a closed-bottom piece of polyester hung from the ceiling called a hammock, and long pieces of polyester known as “silks.”
Each of the apparatus allows performers to complete a series of sometimes impressive, often upside-down, maneuvers that would be at home on gymnastic rings or a circus tent.
Supporting one’s weight with pieces of polyester is harder than it looks, Meetze admits, but the effects of physics decrease with determination.
She noted the marked progress 14 students from the Marcia Sarosik Dance Studio have made in only three lessons.
The strips of fabric are surprisingly comfortable despite the effort needed to support one’s weight, said student Jayme Lowe, 22, while holding herself up Monday.
Meetze has begun instructing anyone interested in learning aerial performance at South Tahoe CrossFit Tuesdays and Thursdays.
She said the 15 or so students who have attended class have done so mainly because of how fun the discipline looks.
Although a certain degree of athleticism is needed to perform maneuvers on silks, Meetze said she is willing to work with students to develop the needed strength.
“For a lot of aerial performance, you have to have the strength, but you also need some flexibility to maneuver your body in different positions,” Meetze said.
Her classes start with low-flying maneuvers. Pads are also placed on the floor and students are instructed in spotting techniques to add safety to the classes.
Confidence in arm strength also helps safety, but getting off the couch is the first step to getting up in the air, Meetze said.
“You don’t have to be able to do a single pull-up, but you have to have the desire to,” Meetze said.