Aerial Retreat Reflections: Costa Rica

As aerial grows, more and more options for training are cropping up. For those of us addicted to our air time, this is EXCELLENT news! Dozens of aerial retreats have cropped up, and while we might want to attend all of them, our pocketbook can get in the way.  At Born to Fly, we want to start gathering information from retreat attendees to help students to identify what retreats are available and the best fit for their goals. This first review we have is on the Dances in the Air Costa Rican Aerial Dance Retreat written by Salt Lake City aerialist Morgan Sjoblom.


beach-splash

What was the focus of the retreat? What was the kind of content covered?
The apparatus focus was on fabrics (some low stretch and some medium stretch) and trapeze (mostly static with one dance trapeze). Every day of the retreat there was a 2.5 hour class of trapeze and a 2.5 hour class of silks. Intermittently throughout the week, there were also other movement classes such as juggling, hoop, yoga, and meditation.

There was a large focus on movement and exploration in the air and on the ground. The exploration wasn’t particularly on skills but on everything as a whole. Considering the ground, the apparatus, your emotions, the emotions of the songs, changing/breaking movement patterns, and not holding yourself to what you think should be done. Each class incorporated these aspects as well as learning skills. The week of classes all built up to a sequence for each apparatus.

What type of professionals were brought in to teach?
Dance in Air is owned by Melissa Coffey who is an aerial performer, trainer, and producer. During the week she taught the upper-level trapeze classes and the lower level fabric classes. Also there teaching was Amber Monson, who is also an aerial performer, trainer, and studio owner of Sky Gym in Atlanta. Amber taught the upper-level fabric classes and lower level trapeze classes.

trap-class-BR
Photo Credit:  Brandon Ross

What was included in the cost of the retreat? 

  • About 20 hours of aerial training
  • All but two meals during the week (2 meals self-paid during excursions)
  • All transportation outside of airfare (there was a lot of driving, and this was amazing that it was provided)
  • One surf lesson
  • Movement classes such as juggling, hoop, yoga, and meditation
  • Double occupancy lodging accommodations
  • Excursion to Montezuma
  • Waterfall hike and photoshoot
  • Photography that was shot during the week by the designated photographer

 

costa-rican-food

What information can be provided about the location of the retreat?
Melissa did a really great job finding a location that was secluded and yet close to the nearby town. It was amazing to be in a remote location and still have access to everything you needed. Part of the training took place at the resort where lodging was, and part of the training was at another location in the nearby town about 10 minutes away. The resort was really a small oasis that had wonderful bungalow style rooms, an outdoor dining area (where all the meals were served), beautiful plants and animals everywhere, a pool, and within walking distance to the beach. It was a safe location with many locals and many cute fluff balls (dogs) running around that all wanted loves.

beach-acro-BR
Photo Credit:  Brandon Ross

Did the retreat have multiple skill levels or focus on a single skill range?
There was a large variety of skill levels present. There were many people who had never done aerials and many who were at higher levels. There was a great mix and the lessons were catered to everyone there. It was great to be there with mixed levels and watch everyone progress throughout the week.

How customizable were the class options?
During the retreat, I shared my thoughts about wishing that there was more dense skill coverage. After I did, there was a whole lesson planned just focusing on skills. The trainers really wanted to provide what the students were looking for and were open to ideas and suggestions. I enjoy working with all types of movements but when I’m with a new instructor I also want to pick their brain and learn all the skills I can.

silks-class-BR
Photo Credit:  Brandon Ross

What was the social ambiance of the retreat? Inclusive or segregated?  Social activities in addition to training?
This retreat is hosted by trainers who live in Atlanta, GA. So, by proxy, there were many people there who knew each other from that area. That being said, the retreat was run in a way that fostered connections and communication. During the non-training times of going to the beach, out on excursions, and hanging out at the pool it was relatively easy to meet someone new and connect with them.

group-photo-BR

Photo Credit:  Brandon Ross

Did the retreat include destination excursions?
Going to Montezuma for the day was one of the biggest excursions. Included with that day was travel as well as hiking to a nearby waterfall. There was time to go shopping, go to the beach, eat dinner, and zip-lining! Which I did! There was also a morning that we went surfing, a morning free for horseback riding, and daily walks to the nearby beach.

surfing-BR
Photo Credit:  Brandon Ross

What was the balance of training and rest?
The day to Montezuma was meant to be a rest day. Although most of us chose to do as much there as we could. Go figure, a bunch of aerialists taking advantage of every opportunity! The general theme of the retreat was going at your own pace. There were a ton of class options and you could do as much or as little as you wanted. No one was pressuring you to do everything and no one was stopping you from doing everything either. It was up to you to use accurate self-assessment and go at a pace that was right for you.

What was your favorite highlight of the retreat?
I loved the experience of training outdoors for a week and training with brand new people. I also went on the retreat with my Mom which was the biggest highlight. I took her to an aerial class two years ago and now we are going on aerial retreats together!

It was also amazing that the place we were training silks at had rigged a silk at the beach while we were there. It made for a beautiful beach photo shoot, one of my aerial dreams. That part wasn’t even a planned event. Which often was the beauty of this retreat. It was planned but not over planned. There was room to do what you wanted and flexibility to take opportunities as they arose.

morgan-beach-silks-BR
Photo Credit:  Brandon Ross

Any areas of improvement?
I really feel like this was about as well rounded of a retreat that you could get. The only aspect I would mention is that if you are looking for an all training focused retreat this may not be for you. This was one aspect I was a little bummed about, at first. But like I said before, once I mentioned this to the trainers a lesson plan was made the next day focusing on the things I had asked for. I wanted to train harder and when I mentioned it, it was delivered! This retreat was focused not only on aerial training but also enjoying the location and all it had to offer, which was a lot! So if you’re looking for an aerial training and retreat, this is a perfect option.

Final Comments:
I loved this retreat and I will definitely focus on being able to go again. Melissa is always looking into more locations to hold retreats and has a list of great locations for aerial retreats. She is really great at communication and was very helpful in the booking process leading up to the retreat and then answering questions while there. She really figures out all aspects of a retreat that aerialists specifically need, like good healthy food and rest in addition to training.

beach-play


About Morgan Sjoblom

Morgan’s journey into aerials started in 2011 while attending Georgia State University. She only dabbled at first because of time constraints with school. In 2013 she finished with a BFA in Graphic Design and shortly after moved back home to Utah and started taking every aerial class she could.

In 2015 Morgan started assisting aerial and AcroYoga classes. Focusing on proper spotting techniques and learning all she could from all of the Aerial Arts of Utah staff. From 2016-2017 Morgan completed three Aerial Instructor Training Programs (beginner, intermediate, and advanced) from aerial instructor and performer Elizabeth Stitch. From 2015-2016 Morgan studied and trained AcroYoga with Kimberly Preston, certified both as an AcroYoga International Teacher and Yoga Instructor with over 1,000 hours of Hatha and Vinyasa teacher experience.

Morgan started teaching on her own in 2016 and has loved all of the moments and learning experiences she has experienced. Along with her foundational training in aerials and AcroYoga, Morgan’s training in fine arts greatly influences her passion for silks, trapeze, lyra, and AcroYoga. She loves finding balance in the shapes, expressions, and movements on an aerial apparatus. Morgan has an everlasting fascination with the endless possibilities of creation. She finds inspiration from all areas of her life and loves sharing aerials with her students, friends, and community.

 

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!

NONE to ONE Final Week: Make it Count

The theme this week is to ADD WEIGHT when you do your workouts.

If you are feeling weighted down already, it may seem counter-intuitive to add weight. You might be saying, “Rebekah, I already can’t lift my blubber butt in the air. Why add weight and make it all the worse?”

It probably will feel worse when you have the weight on. But the first thing you’ll notice is that you might feel a little silly. Perfect! (Remember last week’s discussion?) Try your hardest. That is all I ask.

Now for the moment of glory. Take the weight off. I give you the gift of flight like you’ve never tasted it before. You will feel lighter than you’ve ever felt before.

This is a training secret I heavily used (get it – heavily used) when I was first starting to learn aerial fabric over 10 years ago. I would put on ankle weights, wrist weights and a waist weight and then I would climb stretchy fabric if you can believe it. And I mean the super stretchy climb. That kind that no one ever climbs on in recreational classes because it takes 7 climbs to get off the ground and discourages everyone. Yup, that’s the best kind of training ground. You climb that with weights on and there’s no wonder why I could fly around on non-stretch fabric after my muscles grew back.

Here’s the last video that I made for our pull-up series. Good luck on your pull-up journey!