Aerial Dance

Come Fly with Us!

Aerial dance provides a mode of dance and movement that is accessible to a wide range of ability levels and body types. We have seen tremendous impacts on individual dancers in body awareness, fitness, self-esteem, and confidence.

Which aerial class is right for you?

Level 1a:

For never-evers, beginners, and students who have taken long breaks from aerial training.  It is common for students to repeat this level many times until the teacher recommends the next level for that specific apparatus.
  • The focus is on foundational skills, strength, and coordination needed for aerial training in any apparatus. Students will build, maintain and practice these coordinations in the knot, on the ground, and in the air with simple sequencing and variations. Students trains in short arm and long arm positions and understand foundational aerial safety with their bodies.

Level 1b:

For aerialists with consistent aerial classes and training for 3 consecutive months to 1 year
Silks/Sling Required Skills:
  • Able to tie a knot on silks safely w/o teachers help
  • Can invert with ease and straddle up 3x in a row
  • Must have clear knowledge of Basic climb
  • Russian climb w/o instructor’s help
  • 3rd grade above can do figure 8 footlock feet only
Lyra Required Skills:
  • Can hold chin up position for at least 15 sec
  • Double knee hang w/o spotting
  • Vine climb to seated and descend through double knee hang


Level 2:

Silks/Sling Required Skills:
  • Can invert and perform 5 pistons
  • Straddle up 3x in a row and hook single knee (no knot)
  • Can hold straight arm hang for 10sec with PROPER and safe shoulder alignment
  • successfully performs Basic climb
  • Russian climb and straddle climbs WITH controlled descent on both right and left
  • Can stay in air for 2min
  • Crossing poles (candy cane, pull to bird from seated)
  • Able to sequence skills in the air and retrograde without getting tangled
  • Demonstrate control and ability to fine tune within their skill level (not just achieve a trick but learn “how” to make it better)
  • Hip keys on ground AND in the air
  • Catchers wrap from ground
  • Front balance, back balance on ground and in air
Lyra Required Skills:
  • Can hold  chin up position for at least 15 sec while spinning
  • Double knee hang hands free
  • Ball/ pike and down with ease
  • Vine climb to seated and descend through double knee hang
  • Understands intermediate moves in the hoop such as :arabesque, Y, gazelle


Level 3:

Silks/Sling Required Skills:
  • Must be able to tie a knot on silks safely w/o teachers help
  • Can invert and perform 5 pistons
  • Straddle up 5x in a row
  • Successfully performs Basic climb
  • Russian climb and straddle climbs
  • Figure 8 and dancer footlocks
  • Can stay in air for 3-4min, hip keys in the air
  • Understands cross back straddle variations
  • catchers wrap in air
  • Can repeat these skills with spinning
  • Can repeat and retain complex sequencing
Lyra Required Skills:
  • Can hold single knee positions 15sec while spinning on low bar with one or 2 hands
  • Double knee hang hands free for 15 sec
  • Vine climb to seated and descend through double knee hang
  • Understands intermediate moves in the hoop
  • Knee hang on top bar
  • Understands lyra transitions: transverse, frontal (coronal) and Sagittal


Level 4:

Silks/Sling Required Skills:
  • Invert and perform 10 pistons
  • Straddle up 5x in a row
  • Performs various climbs with and w/o split silks in air (such as C.A.S.H., knee climbs and hip key climbs)
  • Performs at least 3-4 various footlocks
  • Can stay in air for 4-5min
  • Performs cross back straddle variations
  • Catchers wrap, S wrap, Z wrap, saltos, wheel downs, single leg wheel down
  • Can repeat these skills with spinning
  • Can repeat and retain complex sequencing
Lyra Required Skills:
  • Can hold single knee and double positions hands free 20 sec while spinning on high and low bars
  • Understands various pathways to climb into hoop and to initiate spin in sequencing,
  • Understands advanced moves inside the hoop and on top bar,
  • Understands  full mills and rolls.
  • Lyra transitions: transverse, frontal (coronal) and Sagittal.

Private Aerial Lessons

Private lessons are available for all levels of aerial fabric and/or lyra for all ages. Private lessons are catered to the students’ specific levels and students will have more time on the equipment than in normal group classes. This is also a great option for a fun and unique birthday party! Contact SOD for more information.

More Information

All aerial dance classes take place at the
Center for the Arts
606 6th Street
Crested Butte

Email Nicole

Deep gratitude for the Zane Mason Memorial Fund and its direct support for the dance education of our male dancers. In loving memory of movement extraordinaire Zane Mason, whose inspiration is felt by all.

Practice at Home – Guidelines

Want to practice at home?  Here are some guidelines to help you stay safe.  

Written by Joanie Garcia (Grant) co-founder of the Crested Butte Dance Collective, and co-owner of Momentum in Flagstaff AZ.  and co-founder of Dark Sky Aerial.  Edited by Sasha Chudacoff

Use The Right Gear:  Order equipment from a reputable source such as Aircat Aerial Arts or Aerial Essentials. Do not use materials from the hardware store. Inspect your gear regularly. If it’s “Made in China” from a hardware store, it is not load tested.

Rig Only from Load Bearing Beams: Use a protective barrier such as a carpet swath wrapped around your beam to protect your span set/polyester round sling from wear and tear. Make sure that the beam you rig from is load tested to 6,000 lbs. YES! that is what they say for dynamic aerial arts movements, drops, etc..

Never Practice Aerial ALONE & Never Practice Without an Enveloping Mat Underneath: Before considering how much it will cost to purchase a home setup, be sure to take into account the cost of an 8″ enveloping mat. You can make your own mat cover and order 8″ thick foam to make it more affordable, but don’t skip the mat! You can get a mat from matsmatsmats.com for $318. Your head and spine are worth $318.

Training: Instruction will help you avoid costly injuries. The most common injury in aerial arts is to the shoulder. Working with an aerial instructor not only will improve your form but it will insure that you learn proper body technique to stay safe in the air. I started out training by myself as a young aerialist because I lived 8 hours away from the closest training facility. The first year I did aerial arts I caused significant damage to my shoulders. I can never undo the damage I did that year, but when I started training with an instructor, I noticed a dramatic difference not only in my ability but also in my quality of movement and a reduction in shoulder pain. You can learn aerial arts on your own, but you will learn much more and have quality experiences learning from trained professionals.

Learn by Watching Videos: We all love watching videos! The more you train with a professionally trained aerial instructor, the more you will SEE when you are watching those videos. Before trying things out on your own, share videos with your instructor and start a conversation. How was their shoulder rotation? How did their hip placement keep their body engaged in that silk wrap? Was the performer I saw on YouTube doing this move safely and correctly? The more you work with a trained professional, the more you will understand the body mechanics of aerial technique and learn how to stay safe when testing out the moves you see. You will learn if you are ready to execute the moves you see in your videos in a safe and healthy way. Your instructor will also have an opportunity to let you know if they do not feel that you are ready to try the move you saw in the video.  Do not try out new moves alone and without the supervision of a trained instructor.  It’s not worth it! Here’s a great article from our friends at Versatile Arts in Seattle, WA about learning from YouTube.

Additional Resources:

https://aerialessentials.com/index.php?route=information/information&information_id=12 – more resources on rigging

http://www.paperdollmilitia. com/Aerial_ABCs.html – shoulder and aerial body technique tutorials from our buds, Paper Doll Militia

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!