It’s been another year since my last blog. I used to write a lot of blogs. In fact, I’ve now written over 100 of them, but you may not be aware of that. I don’t write much anymore, so not sure who might read this. (You’ll have to let me know who you are. Feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and introduce yourself. I’m Rebekah Leach by the way.)
One of the reasons I haven’t written in so long is because I’m barely coherent these days. In all honesty, I am just plain exhausted.
The local studio I own is closing. Not because of Covid. Isn’t that so ironic? We made it through Covid with flying colors. We were able to survive fantastically through Covid, and even see growth. Then just when our comeback was supposed to really take off, we lost our lease.
And then, like that, we are done.
It may sound like a tragedy, and it feels like one too, but I also have a great deal of hope that I wanted to share in this blog so that you know not to feel too sad for us. At least, not for me.
The hardest thing about it all is the collective loss of what AerialWorks stood for in the local community, and that should be grieved in full. We were a place for unique art in a town that doesn’t really have a lot of it. Currently, there is no performing arts center, no adult dance classes besides Zumba, etc. The suicide rate in our suburban area is high. And AerialWorks was doing it’s part to change that. I knew the backstory of so many of our students. Adults who had been abused as children, and sadly, children who had suffered trauma. Adults who suffered from self-hatred, shame, and just those needing to be social. Foster kids. Teens who suffered from chronic depression…until they found aerial. Aerial was therapy and medicine for a community that doesn’t offer a whole lot of alternative means of expression or adult social life. Our aerial sanctuary was medicine to the soul and this is what I grieve. The loss of that alternative therapy to the community. The loss of the collective energy, that wonderful adrenaline-rush every time we had a show. The smiles on people’s faces when they shared our moment of triumph in a piece. I will dearly miss that energy. And I am sure it will attract me enough to make a comeback one day. But not today.
I had my studio so long, I wasn’t even teaching anymore! I was only managing, which gave me all the anxiety with very little joy. I played studio manager and scheduled the classes, but wasn’t there to watch the excitement as students uncovered new skills, and my presence was heavily fading. You know you’ve hit rock-bottom (or great success– the two can be confusing) as a studio owner when none of the students at the studio know who you are. Thankfully, I was far from that point, but I could feel it’s pending grasp on my spirit.
One reason it’s been only 2 blogs in 2 years, is that I haven’t had anything to say except “I’m tired.” Covid wore me down thin. But Covid or not, studio owning is absolutely draining. I am ready to lay it down to be able to love the art form once again.
I grieve the loss of the community that emerged in a shared love around aerial here in my local town. But for me, you need not be sad. As a studio owner, there is a great deal of sacrifice required to run a space that gives and gives. There is a great deal of soul-depletion, and you must give up the art form enjoyed for oneself in order to give to your students. I wouldn’t take back any of these years, but I am so ready to embrace years of rest. I am ready to feed my soul with the art form that I have been feeding to others. I would love to imagine the possibility of creating for the pure joy of it again, the feeling of getting lost in the flow, and not worried about my next lesson plan or what I will teach or choreograph for my students or if it’ll look good in my next Instagram post. There is a time and place where I need to just be me with my art in order to me to find my voice to speak again. I anticipate my voice getting quieter before it gets louder. I’m overdue for some deep-dive soul-searching.
As I close the studio, and you may ask, “How can I help?” I have one request in particular: Please. Find the nearest studio owner and thank them. Thank them for all the money they have poured into the art form, for all the hours they spend managing and e-mailing and sacrificing their family time or their training time to do it all. They are likely doing everything they can to connect good aerial teachers to a solid student base to share the art form with their local communities. When students have a great time in class, they are likely to thank their teachers, but it is a rare and treasured student indeed who reaches beyond to thank the studio owner.
As “AerialWorks Castle Rock” closes, Rebekah is rebranding to “AerialWorks Community” which connects students globally and locally through virtual means for classes and performances. Check out the schedule online at www.aerialworksco.com. Interested in performing in virtual shows or connecting in other ways? Email email@example.com.