Aerialists: Which Creative Personality Are You?

While going through the blog on the Born to Fly Teachers website, we were reminded of this wonderful quiz that Julianna Hane put together just for aerialists.  Take a moment and learn about your creative style!

I’ll admit it – I love a good quiz! We all have a special “zone” in the creative process where we feel right at home. Whether working on a performance piece, building a show, or running a studio, this quiz reveals which stage within the creative process makes you shine brightest. And you know me – cited sources are at the end. Have fun!

Take the quiz!

When getting dressed for training, I:
a) Wear whatever feels right. Sometimes I don’t even match.
b) Consider my goals/to-dos that day and dress accordingly.
c) Put together coordinated outfits.

When choreographing a piece, my favorite part is:
a) Improvising! I feel at home tossing around 100 different ideas.
b) Making a statement. I want my piece to have a clear purpose and intent.
c) Refining the details. Each gesture and moment contributes to the whole.

When collaborating with others, I am the one who:
a) Brings a shoebox full of ideas to the table.
b) Reminds the group to focus on the goal of the project.
c) Shapes the vision into a neat and tidy finished product.

The training advice I relate to most is:
a) Consider all the movement possibilities within each skill.
b) Work harder and toughen up.
c) Clean lines and fluid technique make all the difference.

Which statement is most true for you?
a) I am inspired by feeling.
b) I am driven by purpose.
c) I am focused on details.

My favorite objects are:
a) Anything with texture and color. When shopping I always touch the products on the shelf!
b) Tools. Whether its a great web app or a hammer, I like things that help get a job done.
c) Frames. I like finished edges that showcase the images they surround.

One of my faults is:
a) Getting distracted easily. I have so many ideas I don’t know what to do with them all.
b) Digging in and not wanting to change, OR wanting everyone else to change.
c) Getting so bogged down in the details that I forget about the big picture.

I am most excited when:
a) Exploring a new apparatus or idea.
b) Mastering a skill I’ve been training for months, and moving on to the next challenge.
c) Showcasing what I’ve learned for family and friends.

The life stage I most relate to is:
a) Youth. The wonder of childhood reminds me to explore and be creative.
b) Teenage Years. I often give advice to those dealing with tough situations.
c) Adulthood. I enjoy seeing a career come to fruition and think often about legacies.

My favorite apparatus is:
a) Invented apparatus, or aerial fabric. There are so many possibilities!
b) Static trapeze, rope, or straps. I like the stability and linear movement.
c) Aerial hoop or cube. It frames my lines beautifully.

During performances, people come to me for:
a) Group warm-up games.
b) Advice in balancing a handstand or sticking a tricky move.
c) Scissors. And eyelash glue. And a sewing kit.

The backstage advice I give most often is:
a) Enjoy the moment.
b) Just do it. You’ve got this.
c) Your rosin is right here.

The word that best describes me is:
a) whimsical
b) methodical
c) polished

My favorite part of performing is:
a) Playing with different hair and make-up ideas. The piece is never done!
b) Setting up. I can haul chairs, pop popcorn, or do whatever job needs doing.
c) Seeing everyone’s pieces come to fruition.

I most prefer:
a) Playtime.
b) A hard workout.
c) Finishing things.

Tally your number of a’s _______ b’s ________ c’s ________

And here are the results!

Mostly a’s: The Explorer
You are an adventurer and creative to the core! Your many ideas win you friends all over, and your whimsical spirit is infectious. You dabble in many different projects, often handing off your ideas to others to finish. You tend to like mornings, youth and anything with the word, “new.” While you may have trouble deciding which projects to focus on (and can’t even fathom finishing anything), your ability to offer ideas to others makes you a prized member of any group.

Mostly b’s: The Driver
You are on a mission. Everything you do is intentional, with clear purpose. You are known for drilling tough moves again and again, inspiring others to do the same. When a challenge arises, you are just the one to get the job done. People often seek your advice when in difficult situations. Sometimes you dig your heels and resist change (or try to change others to your way of thinking), but your talent for coping with struggle is one your community can use.

Mostly c’s: The Publisher
You are a curator of the complete. You relish in seeing projects come to fruition. Your eye for finishing touches shows others that the devil is in the details. Clean lines, including straight knees and pointed feet, give you a sense of peace and calm. You are the perfect person to sew on a detached sequin, or save the day with your well stocked performance kit. Sometimes you get bogged down in details and forget about the big picture. But your talent for seeing things through to the very last lighting cue is vital to a smoothly running show.

Sources: This quiz was inspired by Dr. Charles Johnston’s Creative Systems Theory (personality types are based on Early, Middle, and Late Axes), and Warren Lamb’s Movement Pattern Analysis . Lamb, a student of Rudolf Laban, looks at movement to understand people’s decision making patterns.

What results did you get?
Tell us about it in the comments section below, and please share with friends!

About the Author: Julianna Hane traded life on a cotton farm to become a dancer and aerialist. She is the author of the Aerial Teacher’s Handbook and Director of Training for Born to Fly Productions.

Born to Fly Productions offers teacher training and certifications for six different emphases:  sling, silks, rope, lyra, trapeze, and aerial yoga.  Our providers host these training all across the United States, as well as internationally.  Check out our schedule!

Everything Hurts and I’m Dying: How Much Soreness is Too Much?

Authored by Dr. Jennifer Crane, PT, DPT, OCS, ATC of Cirque Physio.

What does current performing arts culture tell us about muscle soreness? Aches and pains? Bruises, burns, and rope rash?

“Train through it.”
“Tears are for home, not circus”
“Here, have some circus candy (advil/ibuprofen).” 

These are all common “circus-isms” that I’ve heard, and I want to talk a bit about soreness- is it productive? How much is too much? How do you train optimally while simultaneously avoiding OVERtraining and subsequent injury?

This is a HUUUGEE topic, and I’m only going to address a small component of it in this post.

​I was recently reading an article on implementing pitch counts in little league players (woah, #notcircus?! I know…what was I thinking…) and it REALLY got my gears turning. Not because I love baseball (…I don’t), but because one of the criteria they used for progressing pitch intensity and frequency was something I felt could also be applied to circus artists who are returning to training after a long hiatus, or even to those who are wanting to progress skill and strength levels in an efficient amount of time, without getting injured.


​This criteria for training progression is referred to as the “Soreness rule.” It was initially created for pitchers, but has since been adapted and modified to fit other sports as well (running, weight lifting, etc). These rules give athletes the ability to modify their progression of skill/strength according to the soreness they experience. If the athlete feels sore, tender, or stiff, then they can use the soreness rules to guide their training for the rest of that week.


​Here are the ground rules before I dive into WHAT the actual soreness rules are:

  1. THESE DON’T APPLY IF YOU’RE INJURED.  If you have pain that is NOT from working out a muscle, GET IT CHECKED OUT by someone who’s qualified to do so.
  2. These rules are based on stepwise progression of overall training volume, strength or skill acquisition. This means that before you get started, you need to create multiple steps/phases of training- whether its breaking a trick down into 5 phases, or just generally increasing the number of hours you train per week. For example: if you’re an aerialist that is coming back from having a baby (and have been cleared to return to aerial by all involved healthcare providers), you should first sit down and create a multi-phase return-to-full-time-aerial plan. This must be well defined, so work with a qualified coach to do so, if you get stuck!
  3. Ok, sit down for this one…I’m serious, you’re not going to like it. EACH TRAINING DAY SHOULD HAVE ONE DAY OF REST BETWEEN to ensure proper recovery and adaptation to the stimulus and load!!
    1. Yeah, I said it. The “R” word. In this context, it doesn’t mean complete Netflix and chill bedrest status for 24 hours, it just means that if you’re working on an upper body skill, to give your upper body a break the next day. Yes, handstands count. Yes, contortion counts. Yes, vinyasa yoga counts. Yes, one day = 24 hours.
  4. Each step/phase in your progression should last for at least one week. This means that you should be working on whatever conditioning/training drills comprise ONE step for SEVEN DAYS- without soreness. You must be able to do step one, completely free of any muscle soreness, for 7 days before progressing to step 2. If you have soreness during step one, you stay on step 1 (with 24 hour break between each training session) until you’re doing it WITHOUT soreness. For 7 days.
    1.  I do realize I just said the exact same thing three times. I’ve had the rest day conversation with enough circus artists to know that repetition is key, and over-defining each term is required. It is also often required for me to define how many hours are in a day, and how many days are in a week. 


 ​Overwhelmed? Here’s the cliff notes version: Pick a skill to work on, or an overall training goal. Break the goal down into at least 5 steps. Assign drills and conditioning for each step. Start with step 1, and don’t move on to step 2 until you’ve been doing it every other day for one week, without any muscle soreness.

Oh yeah…one more thing. WORK WITH A QUALIFIED COACH.



Alright, there we have it. The rules. You guys, I KNOW. Your heart rate and blood pressure just spiked, and you’re getting anxious just THINKING about all those rest days, and how slowly you think you’ll progress. I’m aware that in the circus world, these rules seem SUPER conservative.

​However…as a circus PT, at least 80% of the injuries I treat are from overuse…too much training, and too little rest. These injuries tend to last upwards of 3 months (because again, no rest…) and can significantly impact performing artists career length and career quality. The kicker is, these injuries are caused predominantly by modifiable risk factors…aka, proper dosage of training and adequate rest. So yes…I understand that you’re panicking thinking about this. And yes, I understand that implementing any big change in training program is something that does NOT happen overnight, but I think these rules have a potentially huge positive impact on the overall rate of overuse injuries in circus artists, and I think there’s value to planting this seed in your minds…even if you don’t actually DO anything about it for a while!

As I said, the topic of adequate rest, proper training load and volume, as well as overall periodization of training in circus arts is a MASSIVE subject. I’ll likely have a few more posts on this topic, so if you have any specific requests, leave them in the comment section!


Dr. Jennifer Crane is a physical therapist, athletic trainer, board certified orthopedic specialist, and published author. She has been a sports medicine professional for eight years, and has worked with a wide variety of athletes and performing artists throughout that time. Most recently, she worked as a physiotherapist living in China with the Chinese Olympic Teams in preparation for the Rio 2016 Olympics. While in China, she worked with multiple sports teams: diving, weight-lifting, fencing, gymnastics, synchronized swimming, and track and field. Of the athletes she worked with, 18 of them went on to get an Olympic gold medal in Rio.

Now happily back in San Francisco, Jen’s practice is based at Circus Center, where she specializes in injury prevention and treatment of athletes and performing artists. When she’s not working with circus artists, she can usually be found standing on her hands, swinging on flying trapeze, or spinning on a single point trapeze.

Click here to visit Cirque Physio.

How to Perform the Perfect Aerial Photoshoot

You’re performance ready, but are you photoshoot ready?



A performance usually lasts 3-5 minutes, but a photoshoot lasts at least a half hour (usually more). A performance is about flow, movement, and suspense. A photoshoot is about accentuating body lines and capturing the feeling of the movement. Here are some tips to help you be as prepared as possible:


1. Pick your poses wisely.

This isn’t about showing off every move you’ve ever learned, so be picky.
Choose poses that photograph well. Not all poses do. You and other aerialists know how difficult certain poses are to get into, and how much strength some require. Assume that most people looking at your photos don’t. Before you choose an advanced move to showcase, ask yourself if it shows the lines of your body well. The answer may be no because of the nature of the pose or because it doesn’t show your particular flexibility or strength well (which can change over time). Which brings me to the second part of choosing your poses.


Choose the poses that will really show your best flexibility and strength. For me, this means showing off my back flexibility, but not focusing on splits and straddles. For many of my friends, it’s the opposite – great splits, not so great back bend. Of course you can throw in one or two of your not-best poses in order to be able to compare it to future photos and see your progress, but it shouldn’t be your focus for the shoot.



Choose poses that allow you to conserve energy. Because a photoshoot lasts a lot longer than a performance, it is in your best interest to choose poses from which you can easily transition into a good rest position. There will be times that your photographer wants you to keep the same pose, but they want to change angles, adjust lighting, or switch lenses. This may take a minute – or ten minutes – so you need to be able to rest. In a studio, you might decide just to come down to the ground during these times, so the pose must not take up all of your energy to get into.

The other side of saving your energy is simply planning an array of poses that doesn’t target the same muscle set. For example, if you can’t hold yourself up by your arms for a half hour straight, then don’t choose all poses that require a lot of arm strength. Instead, stagger them so that an arm-heavy pose is followed by a core strength pose, followed by a hang, and so on.

2. Pick your costume wisely.

Looking your best in photos is also somewhat determined by your wardrobe. Instead of simply picking your favorite workout outfit or costume, consider your location and apparatus, and choose what will stand out from those.

Choose the right color. If you wear too much black, you will often blend into at least part of the background, making it difficult to see your body lines. Intricate patterns also sometimes get lost in the background or make it difficult to see your body lines. If you wear the same color as your apparatus, (white on white as I most often see), then your body lines will again be difficult to see as it’s hard to differentiate between you and the apparatus. Bright colors are always a good idea. Which specific colors depends on your personal style, and the feeling you want to evoke in the photoshoot.



Choose for your purpose and your body. If your photoshoot is for advertising an upcoming show, then use your show costume or something that fits into the style of the show. Likewise, you can do a themed photoshoot based around a certain idea, using your costume, location, and possibly props to add to the theme – as long as these don’t make it difficult for you to move safely and effectively.

For portfolio photoshoots that are meant to simply showcase your work, dress to impress your clientele: if you do a variety of show types, either bring more than one costume or use a fairly conservative outfit that is unlikely to have malfunctions. I’ve made the mistakes of picking clothing that moved when I came upside down, and a top that the “ladies” came out of after 20 minutes in the silk (luckily my husband is my photographer, so no harm done!).

Solid colors and vertical lines add to the appearance of a long body. Likewise, leggings and catsuits make your legs look longer than they will look in shorts or briefs. Horizontal lines and too many breaks in your outfit will make you look shorter and wider. You can definitely still choose some fun elements to your outfit, but try to choose ones that are flattering and don’t get in the way of your movement.

3. Think about extension and feeling.

The same passion and feeling that shows in your performances should show in your photos. Even though you don’t have the flow of movement to convey your message, you can still convey emotion through facial expression and lines of the body. This concept is the same for aerialists and ground dancers alike.


Point eyes and hands with purpose. The most telling part of your body is your eyes. This doesn’t change in photos, even when you can’t clearly see your eyes in the photo. That’s because where your eyes look, your head follows, and your head position changes the position of your body. Generally, if you have one arm extended, look toward your extended hand for the most feeling. Both your hand and your eyes should either point out from your body line or in line with the apparatus (especially with vertical apparatuses such as silks). Below is an example from one of our recent photoshoots. Notice the feeling you get from the photo on the left versus the right, though they are technically the same pose.


_dsc0519 _dsc0522


When you have both arms wrapped or in use in the apparatus, look along the lines of your apparatus (up or down, whichever’s most natural in that position), or wherever keeps your head in “neutral position” in line with your body, neck elongated. You can still look toward your hands in most positions.




When both arms are free from your apparatus, they should contribute to the feeling of movement either by extending back in line with your body or above your head into a natural, slightly bent position such as ballet’s “fifth position.” Of course you aren’t limited to these, but take cues from ballet and other dance forms for arm and hand placement. When both arms are out, your eyes no longer follow your arms, but instead your head maintains a “neutral position.” First photo below shows me (Kaydee Barker) in extension, second is of the stunning Jocelynn Rudig at a recent festival in my hometown of Steamboat Springs.






Find your full extension in the pose. Extension is important in evoking feeling as well as showing off body lines. Often, you want to lengthen every part of your body. Extend your arms, your neck, and your legs, and engage your core. Ask your photographer to tell you when your body isn’t straight in poses like plank and mermaid, or when your straight leg isn’t extended all the way in poses like gazelle.






Closing notes:

Show up well fed, warmed up, and ready to have some fun! To help you get into the right mindset, consider bringing a playlist with some of your favorite songs to play to. Your preparedness and most of all, your joy, will show up in photos. Have fun!


About the Author:

profile-4Kaydee Barker and her husband Devon Barker (the photographer of all the photographs in this article) travel around the United States and abroad connecting the beauty of the great outdoors with the beauty of the human spirit, as shown through aerial dance. This began as a project they called the “Aerialist in the Wild” project, but grew into a lifestyle, and a lifework of inspiring people – starting with Kaydee herself – to connect with nature and learn to love themselves.


Check out Kaydee’s website or Instagram for more of her work as Aerialist in the Wild, and Devon’s blog or Instagram to learn more about his photography and contact him about booking a photoshoot.