Two Silks on One Rescue 8?

Is it safe to rig two separate silks on one rescue 8 accommodate a higher rig that your fabrics aren’t long enough for?

~L.K, aerial dancer


marissa on two fabrics

DISCLAIMER: I AM NOT A RIGGER. The words below are my personal opinion based on my experience, and basic understanding of rigging. It is always best to consult guidance from a qualified rigger when rigging any aerial equipment. 

In short, yes. You are not changing the load on the rescue 8 when you do this, and that’s important to know when analyzing the safety of the rigging. What makes it safe/unsafe is how you tie the knot. If your knots are loose, and it unravels, well, then obviously that makes for a very dangerous situation. There is certainly less risk in using one piece of fabric because there is smaller room for human error in the knots at the top (not to say there is no risk, but just smaller).

I use this technique all the time. My favorite reason is to have two silks of different colors. (The picture above comes to us from one of my students, Ma

risa Luboff.) I have also put two fabrics on one when I cut fabric that was really long only to find out I needed the length when I was teaching at a circus camp.

I like playing it safe so I usually use up a lot of fabric in tying my knots, and in my knots after the main knots, and back-up knots on the back-up knots. I tend to try to keep the top of fabrics out of pictures because they can look like beehives sometimes when I do this. Not pretty, but safe, and that’s what I go for. Others have found ways to do things both pretty and safe, and that’s why I have pulled from other resources (see below).

Keep in mind you don’t have to use one rescue 8 to accomplish your goal. You can do what the aerial yogis do and use a carabineer or ring for each fabric and wa-la! You can add a spacer for added distance between the fabric. I have included pictures below from Aerial Essentials ( as well as a rigging video on how to tie a single fabric to a ring. There are many ways to do this, but they show a way that works just as well as any other. (Just pretend that the sling is cut into two pieces and the bottom, and you’ll have what you are looking for.)



Trimming Fabric


Hi Rebekah,

I’m thinking about trimming my silks (they are 108 inches

wide, which I’m realizing is just a hassle to grip). I think my instructor

said she trims hers to 80 inches or so – but my googling turns up

people saying you shouldn’t trim them because it weakens them (one

person thought the edge was sort of particularly strong, although

looking at mine, it doesn’t look that way). Do you trim/not trim? And

if so, to what width?



What a coincidence to get your e-mail today. I just did my first trimming job today! I took about a foot off my 110 inch purple fabric that I thought was way too much to work with. The company that sells the fabric that I by from offers their services to cut the fabric thinner for you before you get it. If they can cut it down and it is safe to do so, then I’m sure there’s no difference in cutting it yourself. (But this is going to depend on where you get your fabric.)


I can see why people would say that cutting the fabric weakens the fabric. With less fabric around to grip, you are putting more force per square inch, and putting more force per square inch will cause the breaking strength to lower. If you cut your fabric too thin, then you are going to have a weak fabric! You are also going to have a fabric that’s not very fun to grip and you probably won’t want to climb it anyway. You should check (with the manufacturer) to see what the breaking strength of your fabric is and then see if they know the breaking strength of the thinner fabric.


If fabrics are made with stronger edges, then cutting would obviously weaken the integrity of the fabric and those shouldn’t be cut. I’ve never heard of such a fabric for aerial work, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist! I don’t sell aerial fabric, which is why the bottom line of this article is to say that you really need to be asking your manufacturer, not me. But I like to weight in …. just cuz.


As for how thin to cut it: Typically, stretchy fabrics come thin enough – I wouldn’t cut those. But non-stretch fabrics are generally pretty wide (which is great for sling, etc, but not for gripping the whole fabric all the time). I cut mine down to around 98’’ and it still feels a little thick for gripping. I am scared to cut it too thin as I have a few friends who have done this to regret it. At the same time, I do want the width for cocooning and when i use the fabric as a sling.


I would guess 80 inches is on the cusp of as thin as you want to go with non-stretch. I didn’t trust my cutting hand (plus curling fabric) with enough accuracy to get anywhere close to 80 inches. I think 90 is a better width to aim for. Anyone else out there have opinions on what width to cut the fabric to? Please comment below!




Grant Writing for Aerialists

grant writing

The Next Super Power to Add to Your Aerial Arsenal: Grant Writing

By Teresa Kochis

One of my favorite pastimes as an aerialist is learning about the amazing double lives other aerialists lead.  Contrary to popular belief, we don’t all spend every waking moment in spandex and capes in the secret hideout of Cirque du Soleil©.   Many of us carry an unexpected second set of perhaps more practical, but no less impressive skills to balance our superhero lifestyles.  Not every aerialist is ready to divulge their Clark Kent / Kristen Wells alternate identity, but occasionally you may catch a glimpse.  Some of my personal favorites: pharmacist, mathematician, rigger, mother of three and the list goes on.

My double life…  Development Director for an arts-based non-profit.  Now I know development may not connote a life of glamour and adventure, but it has offered me some perks.  One of the best is the ability to write grants for my own aerial projects.  Since people are usually more interested in my adventures 20+ feet above the ground than they are in the world of professional grant writing and deadlines, I was pleasantly surprised when asked me to share some of my knowledge about this field.  The truth, of course, is that knowing how to write a grant is very valuable for anyone in the arts.  So listen up, aerialists; throw your cape back, pull your TheraBall up to the computer (it’s not always kryptonite) and prepare for a good 101 on grant writing.

Why Grant Writing is a Super Power

There are some real advantages to knowing how to write grants.  The most obvious is the chance that you may actually receive funding!  For all you aerialists who are feeling a little tired of “art for art’s sake” and are sick of running on inspiration and dwindling personal funds to make art, applying for grants may be part of the solution.  Grant money can mean the ability to compensate yourself and cover critical expenses such as materials, space rental and artist fees.  Grant writing is an important tool that can help you reach and sustain your creative aspirations.  Here’s how:

•Grants are a great way to support new work.  From putting your ideas down on paper to working toward a concrete goal such as a performance or new script, grants provide a step-by-step process that can help motivate you.

•Grants provide an alternative to the for-profit marketplace.  On the one hand, you can think of grants as start-up capital to help get your artistic ideas off the ground with hopes that they may one day be commercially viable.  If you’re the type who takes one look at reality TV and doubts you’ll be able to commodify your passion, or wonders why you’d ever even want to, grants may be a good way to support your artistic genius without selling your soul.

•Audition your ideas, for a change.  In a field where youth and beauty are sometimes as important as technical skill and performance quality in determining whether one is cast for the part or hired for the gig, grants present a refreshing opportunity to pitch your ideas and perhaps even challenge societal norms.

Myths to Debunk

•Grant writing is not a sure shot.  I’ve had conversations with people who think that grant writing is easy, as though there’s a magical world of generous benefactors just waiting to throw money at you.  Sorry!  That is not the case.  The reality is that writing a grant is work.  If you’re considering starting a non-profit, you should expect it to be equivalent to the amount of work it takes to run a for-profit business and you should research the process thoroughly.  It’s also competitive, with sometimes tens or hundreds of people competing for the same grant opportunity.  So be prepared to work for it, but don’t be overly intimidated either.  The hardest part is getting started.  Once you’ve written your first grant, chances are you’ve created a template of language and gathered support materials that you can build on for the next application.

•On many occasions, I have spoken with artists who are frustrated to learn that some grants seem to come with strings attached.  There are some unrestricted grants like Artist Fellowships, which the artist can use for whatever purposes they choose.  However, other grants such as Project Grants or Commissions often have specific requirements for the use of the funds.  For instance, in order to compete successfully for some grants, you have to provide a benefit to the community.  Maybe that means incorporating a free educational or performance component into your project.  Many artists ask, “Why not just support good art?”  Though grants may vary in how much freedom they allow, I personally believe it’s a valuable exercise to think about how your work can and probably already does give value to the community.  Providing a community benefit shouldn’t require you to compromise your artistic integrity.  Often, it can help you grow as an artist and community member, while helping you develop and expand the audience for your work.

•Remember, aerial circus is an art and you can get grants for it!  In spite of the wild revitalization of circus in recent decades, I’m truly surprised when people question whether circus is an art form.  I challenge this idea and encourage other aerial circus artists to do the same.  While researching this article, I contacted arts administrators from well-known arts organizations and encountered no bias whatsoever against circus arts.

Hold Onto Your Capes!  Do’s and Do Not’s in the Exciting World of Grant Writing.

If, by now, you can hardly keep your fingers from flying across the keyboard, here are some resources you can begin to explore for your first grant writing adventure.

There are a lot of resources online that offer grant writing tips, online or in-person courses as well as funder databases and search engines.  The New York Foundation for the Arts offers excellent resources including the NYFA Source national directory of awards, services, and publications for artists.  In addition, look locally.  Start with your state or local arts council.  These groups often disburse grants for individual artists and can help connect you to other resources.  There are also published books available such as the Artists Guide to Grant Writing by Gigi Rosenberg.

To help launch you on your way, I’m including a few of my personal tips:

•This may be obvious, but read the grant guidelines and make sure you are eligible for all the requirements.  Attend scheduled information sessions and ask questions.  Review projects that have been funded in the past.  Some grantors are willing to answer questions via email or phone as well.  Usually this kind of info is stated on the grantor’s website.

•Start your application well in advance of the deadline and make sure you address all of the questions in the application completely and succinctly.  Proofread and have your friends proofread to make sure your application reads well and is free of spelling, budget and other simple errors.  Follow formatting rules for work samples and test any digital materials on several computers.  Paying close attention to the details will help you avoid early elimination in a competitive grant review process.

•Know and stay focused on your mission and project goals; don’t “chase the money.”  Make sure the grant is the right fit for the work you are already doing or are firmly committed to doing.  If not, there are better ways to expend your energy and time than applying for a grant that you probably won’t be funded for or won’t successfully implement.

•Get to know your community.  An important rule is that fundraising is about relationship building.  Attend information sessions for the opportunity to meet grant officers, the individuals who will potentially review and hopefully recommend your projects.  Speak to artists who have been successful in winning grants in the past.  Attend cultural and other community events to meet other artists, possible project partners and potential supporters.

•If you’re funded, congrats!  If not, don’t give up!  Follow up with the grantor.  Often, grantors are happy to provide feedback on your application.  This will help you strengthen your next application and stand out to the grantor.  Both of these factors may increase your odds of being funded in the next cycle.

Well, I believe my job here is done.  Thank you to NYFA and the Massachusetts Cultural Council for answering my questions for this article and to Andy Anello and Denise Falbo for editing behind the scenes.  And thank you to for the opportunity to share my superheroine expertise.  To all of you aerialists, good luck on both your artistic and grant writing adventures!

– The Flying Development Director


Teresa Kochis has practiced aerial arts for the past fifteen years.  She instructs and creates original work under the title of Overhead Arts.  In her double life, she is also the Development Director for THE POINT Community Development Corporation based in the South Bronx, NYC.