2021 Reflections (Part 2): A Sling Book

The Aerial Sling Manual Vol2 was released in 2021.

One of the biggest highlights for my career last year was the release of The Aerial Sling Manual Volume 2. I released it in the summer time and saw great sales thanks to supports from this website and my Instagram channel (@borntoflycurriculum). “Great sales” is relative as my aerial influence is quite small, but in terms of the sales my books normally see, I was thrilled with the outcome. I was also thrilled with the feedback. So many aerialists are tagging me on social media with what they were able to uncover after soaking in the material from the book. I also launched some online courses based on the chapters of the book that were highly successful. I definitely feel most at-home on sling and I think that really showed through this book and the courses that I ran last year.

Below is the introduction from inside the book in order to give you a complete overview of what you can find in this book. More than any other book I have ever created, I coined new terms for the skills. While many other apparatuses were already established by the time I wrote my book on the topic, sling has not been well-formed, and the language on it is very sparse and inconsistent. I did my best to create a consistent vocabulary that helps to tackle the skills and break them down. Many readers will have a hard time adapting the “newness” of the language, as I can almost guarantee that it is different from your local studio (unless your local studio includes me as your teacher), but once you get immersed in this version of sling, you may find yourself making connections that were on the tip of your aerial brain but not quite clear until the language was able to articulate them for you.

I also released a special sling workshop into my video library in December 2021, but it was available for a limited time. It was a great overview of the material included in the summary below. I plan on releasing a few more bonus workshops into my video library this year, so stay tuned! I announce them in my newsletters which are coming out about once every couple months. Double check that you are on the current mailing list (available to members only).


This book starts off with some conditioning drills in Chapter One. I find drills a very important part of each class, especially inversion work here in Level 2. Regular practice of these will allow the body to grow and maintain strength. Just make sure to keep enough variation in your practice to keep the muscles “guessing”, allowing the mind to stay involved in your training and prevent ruts from growing too strong. Chapter One also includes some foundational vocabulary and other odds and ends that are appropriate when beginning Level 2.

Chapter Two covers arabesques in a brand new way that I created in order to help establish consistent vocabulary for the various ways a body could lean to one side in the sling. The main two types of arabesques are front arabesque and back arabesque. Back arabesque is popular on fabric, where you commonly see it used in conjunction with things like crossback straddle. In sling world, front arabesque is actually the shining start when it comes to crossback straddle (which is the topic of Chapter Eight). Chapter Two also covers running man, as many of the entries fall out easily from arabesques.

Chapters Three & Four cover the pair of reverse skills: catcher’s and seatbelt, respectively. The whole world of sling can be split right down the middle into catcher’s-land and seatbelt-land, and I find it important to juxtapose these two topics for comparison discussions. Chapter Four also covers the hip corset topic, which is where catcher’s and seatbelt are united into one skill together.

Chapter Five is all about getting off your hands for a moment and getting upside-down on your knees and ankles. I cover ankle hangs and knee hangs mainly in this chapter. I tried to further stay off the hands in Chapter Six by spending time around the hips with another pair of reverse skills: side back balance and hip key. Side back balance is one of my favorite skills, so that got a bit more emphasis.

Chapter Seven covers beats and drops. Building a foundation is so important for me that I tend to push drops far back into the curriculum, so there are not as many drops as one might typically expect for this point in the curriculum. Nevertheless, you should find all the classics here.

As I mentioned earlier, Chapter Eight covers crossback straddle. It also covers a hodgepodge of skills from fabric. One important topic here is “high catcher’s,” which will be developed more in Level 3.

By the end of Level 2, my expectations for students is that they have a good grasp of a wide range of topics. They should also have super clean inversions, so don’t neglect those drills! What you can look forward to after this level is a season of building harder skills as well as diving deeper into the complexities of sling. But, no hurry. Enjoy the journey!


You can download the digital version or purchase the paperback from this website. (Sorry, we only ship to USA addresses — if you live internationally, please email mail@firetoys.com to request them to put it in their shop so that you can purchase it.)

One great perk of the digital download is that there are LINKS to all the videos from the video library, which is extremely handy for seeing the skill played out when you need that extra visual reminder. Please note that the video library is sold separately and the videos themselves do not come with the book. This is often a point of confusion. They are linked but they are two separate products: the book is one product. The video library is it’s own product. They are designed to work together, but we don’t sell them together. Sorry! However, if you email us (info@aerialdancing.com) and ask nicely, we’re always happy to let new members trial a membership if they bought a download and want to peak into our library to see what all the fuss is about. Mention this blog. 🙂

Want to save 10% on your purchase? Make sure that you are logged in to your membership account (which is free, although the free version doesn’t include the video library). All members automatically save 10% on their cart when they are logged in to make a purchase.

Thank you so much for all the support. I am really excited to start work next year on more books. Currently, my top three projects are a Trapeze Manual, Fabric Vol3 and Sling Vol3. Facebook message me to tell me which book you think I should work on next!

2021 Reflections (Part 1): A Sling Performance

I wrote a blog on my studio closing last year, but it got spammed so bad I had to take it down. No worries. 2021 was a hard year, as many can relate. Ever since 2020, it seems like every year has been hard. Heavy. Weighted. For various reasons for various people. For me, 2021 brought an unexpected end to my lease. I thought it would renew. My landlord thought not, so I was out of a studio. It was hard, but it was what was meant to be.

Before I closed, Nancy Smith met with me over zoom to chat and invite me to be a part of the faculty for the 23rd annual Aerial Dance Festival. I was thrilled and honored to say yes!! This festival was the very setting in which I first learned aerial. It felt full circle. It was my “Sweet 16” of aerial years and it was a great pleasure to be invited and teach at the festival this past year. As part of the pleasure of being on faculty, artists have the opportunity to present an aerial piece for the showcase. My studio was closing in less than a month, and my gut response was, “no way.” I had enough on my plate and wasn’t feeling up for creating anything. I wanted to give up, crawl in a hole and have a pity party. But the very moment I had that thought, a counter-thought replied “You need to dance this feeling. You need to give yourself the message that there is HOPE when this is heavy. You will get through this. You HAVE IT IN YOU.”

I found the perfect song: “Got it in you” by Banner and the piece was born. I worked on it for 3 days in my living room, creating the concept and putting together a rough draft at the studio by the end of the 3rd day. I sent off the draft to a few aerial colleagues and asked for feedback. They made some great pointers and helped me improve the piece. The main feedback I heard was to put more of my gut into it when performing, which is no problem for me!

I started the piece in a position of defeat, which was the most natural position in the world. I have my head rested back on a bench, displaying a tired body. My hands are open though, ready to receive from the great divine even though I feel like giving up. As the music starts, I feel my heart awakening as the message calls me. I feel the give and take from my spirit wresting with the coming journey.

You gave all that sweat and blood and you think your gonna drown. Dancing this out was also the most natural thing in the world, explaining how I was feeling after 5 years of studio owning. I had gotten to a point where I was burning fast. The oil in the lamp was low and I was wondering what was coming next. It was divine energy forcing my hand because I would have just kept going, even though I felt like I was drowing.

You can’t tell that you’re bigger than the sea that you’re sinking in. This took me aback. Woa. Maybe in all this leadership experience, I had grown my spirit. Outgrown my current place.

You don’t know what you got, but you got it at your fingertips. This is the motif of the piece. I danced out the realization of seeing something there that perhaps I didn’t realize. Something that had grown strong amidst the struggle. I think about how the easy, comfortable things in life are not how you grow. You grow through the things that are difficult. You grow by doing things that seem hard, that feel impossible, that make you feel like you’re in over-your-head. This is how you learn to swim. This was my rising moment in my spirit. Now, I just have to swirl it up in my body and start to live it.

Soon, I run over to the bench where I started with my downcast spirit and I leap up onto it. I’m no longer feeling defeated. I’m starting to believe that maybe there is some strength there after all. Maybe not just something left-over from being burned, but something that is being revealed because all else was burned away. I start to reach for something new, something totally different.

[Sidenote: During the run right before this one, I accidently smacked my ankle on the bench so hard, I thought it was broken. I did this last run before we closed for the night because I wasn’t going to be walking to my car anyway. I was going to be crawling. My ankle hurt so bad. I look a bit like I’m losing balance, but this ended up being the best run of the night. I dug deep to pull this off, that’s for sure!]

No one ever told you this would be so hard. Another line I felt deep in my spirit. I was going through more than just a studio closure at this time in my life. I was dealing with tendinitis in my shoulder and major lung-health issues that were causing me deep grief in my spirit. I was struggling with the thoughts of wondering if my career in aerial was closing. What this it? But I still felt like I had so much left to dance. So much left to get out in this body. But it felt impossible.

Dealing with these dark thoughts, I knew I would have to reach even higher to get out. I needed to grab a lifeline. I needed a rope from heaven to climb. I needed to look inward to find that strength to make the climb upward. That’s when I return to the bench and grab the sling for the first time. This is the turning point. I’m going to summon the strength from the divine deep within me to connect to something that is no longer connected to the ground, but to heaven. Not to the depths but from above. This is going to be different. There is new hope.

Nobody else’s words can define you. Maybe you don’t see it, but you’re quicker than the world can spin. I have always felt a bit different than everyone else, as we all should. We each reflect a unique aspect of the divine, and that’s what makes us beautiful. Instead of looking for traditional routes for my career and how I “make a living,” I’ll look upwards for that. I’ll let my prayers spiral upwards (sling twirling around me), as I find who I am by looking at who created me.

No one ever told you this would be so hard. This is the moment right before climax of the piece for me. When I look back over my shoulder, I’m looking back at where I was, where I felt like I want to be. I felt like puddling in a clump on the ground until I started sinking into the landscape. I didn’t want to get any eyes on me because I had no energy to handle the pity, the connections or disconnections. I just wanted to start disappearing and fading. But something in me rose up to fight this and say, “no.” My voice means something in this world. My contribution matters. I matter, and how I react in this moment, when I feel like giving up, matters most of all.

So I make the decision. To take the Leap of Faith. To find my voice. Not sure of any what I’m saying, I just start by swinging into the unknown, letting myself ride the wave. I have to release to get there. I have to trust. I have to move with hope. In this, I rise and release the heavy burdens I feel, releasing them to the great Creator that says I am worthy. While there’s still breathe in my lungs, no matter how they feel, I will use them to feed oxygen to my muscles to dance and to celebrate. For I have not faced defeat even when it looks like all odds are against me. I still have a ways to go, but I know I am looking upwards.

This was the last time I danced in this studio. Two weeks later, this rig was completely disassembled and placed in storage where it awaits like a phoenix to rise from the ashes.



Rebekah Leach is the creator of more than 1,000 videos in the video library on this site and the author of 12 fabulous aerial manuals. Check them out here at AerialDancing.com (www.BorntoFlyCurriculum.com). She is the mother of 2 children and lives in Castle Rock, CO.

As we are no longer accepting comments on this page due to spam, you are invited to comment on the Facebook page of Born to Fly Curriculum at https://www.facebook.com/aerialdancing. Drop us a message to let us know what you thought of this piece!

Aerial Nerd Conference Sept 2021

Last year, I started the first ever online Aerial Nerd Conference (2020). It was a roaring success! I was thrilled at some of the feedback received such as from these three aerialists:

“My aerial knowledge & embodiment have grown dramatically over the two weeks of this conference. Taxonomy is a huge piece to rounding out aerial work for me. Thanks to Rebekah’s guidance, I am breaking apart common moments on sling to discover exactly what is happening. This allows me to find unexpected pathways into & out of positions. The movement (which has always been my interest) can now be my focus rather than simply the vehicle to get to the next ‘cool pose’. I am also, having a great time playing with retrogrades. I find that using retrograde when working on something new really helps me find the pathways in the new movement.” ~ Chris

“The taxonomy stuff blew my mind! It changed the way I think about aerial and teaching. It inspired me to explore more, put fun back in training foundations, and has my brain working in new ways to inspire my students. I’m actually currently on a break from teaching but now I’m ready to go back!” ~ Tawnya

“It is truly a STUNNING workshop series so far!  All that I could hope to geek out over, so much that I’m having trouble sleeping at night because I keep thinking of possible sequences. Super big awesome thanks for doing this conference online. The WHYS of aerial have always been my favorite part, and you give voice to some things I never had the ability to clearly categorize in the past. It’s freaking fantastic.”
~ Kristina

One of the most popular workshops was my “What the Heck is Aerial Taxonomy?!” which gave an introduction to my wild theories and the way that I view the world of aerial. This year, I have decided to include the stuff in that workshop HERE for you, so that everyone can get a taste of what’s going on in my brain.

First video below goes over the BIG PICTURE of how I break down the different components of my aerial classes. It’s about 8 minutes and includes a whiteboard because I love organizing things in visual form. 🙂

The second video gives an in-depth example of some aerial taxonomy. It’s about 13 minutes and includes another whiteboard because I still love organizing things in visual form. This is the kind of things you can expect to do in all my TAXONOMY workshops. This is grit of it, then we discuss how it can be applied and what fun new finds pop out because of the analysis, but it starts with the pen and paper grunt work.

Like I said in the videos, I work with aerial in many different ways. I love training, I love the artistry, but what I truly thrive upon is the brain component — the part that requires you to sit and think hard. The part where you compare and contrast and make new discoveries. I love leading students into these discoveries.

I hope you can join me for an upcoming workshop and get ready to explode your brain!

To view the workshop schedule for the Aerial Nerd Conference 2021, please go to http://www.aerialworksco.com/anc-2021.html.

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