What is Aerial Silks?

aerial silks

Aerial silks were created as a way to use silk sheets in a movement similar to circus performances. Performers are around 4 to 10 meters from the ground while still maintaining to create elegant and difficult movement. Aerial silks are a combination of dance, gymnastics, and circus arts. It is a performance that requires lots of strength and stability by focusing on using the core and upper body. It is an activity that requires discipline and focus.

Many performers compete in aerial silk competitions and events, but a lot of people like the benefits of performing. Some of these benefits include strengthening and toning muscles, improving balance and posture, upper body development, feeling of well-being, myofascial tissue/adhesion release, improving core strength,  lower body stability, joint rotation and mobility, and increasing one's flexibility.


There is a lot of controversy surrounding who exactly created aerial silks, but most people say it was Andre Simard. While in charge of the research and development of acrobatic exercises for the cirque du Soleil in 1987, Simard had the idea to create a movement that hopes to gain the attention of spectators in the circus. He wanted to create a performative art that focused on body movements and facial expressions.

The Stage

Aerial Silks The Stage

Typically aerial silks are performed above a wooden or hard-surfaced floor in a contained area. This is so performers can easily move without their material getting caught and if they fall, they are on a surface that will help prevent extreme injuries. It is important when performing to have a clear area without any objects nearby. Oftentimes in professional performances or competitions, aerial silks will be performed on a flat stage.

Aerial Silks Equipment

Aerial Silks Equipment

The only equipment needed for performing aerial silks is an aerial fabric. When purchasing aerial fabric, there are several factors to consider to ensure you are getting the best-fit silk for

you. These factors include the weight ratings, fabric material, stretch of the fabric, size, and what type of fabric you want to work with. You need to find a store that has been around for a while and is very transparent about any questions or information that may be needed.


When performing in aerial silks, a performer will use two lengths of fabrics that are secured from the ceiling. The performer will use their strength and skills to wrap the silks around their body, while performing a variety of poses and movements. The goal is to incorporate hanging equipment into modern dance while also amazing the audience. The performer will use a variety of movements and techniques to put on a dazzling performance.


When performing aerial silks, there are some important techniques that will help improve your performance. These tips range from the clothing you wear to your lifestyle routine. By following these tips, they will help you improve as a performer.

Here are the most important Aerial Silks techniques you should know:

  • Before doing any sort of aerial skills it is important to warm-up and stretch. This can include anything from jumping jacks to a light jog.
  • Provide your body with the proper nutrients and diet.
  • Rest 1-2 days a week to give your bodytime to recover, grow, and rejuvenate.
  • Wear proper clothing that will cover your skin. If your body is not properly covered it can result in skin burns.
  • Wear clothing that is tight and non-slippery, otherwise you may end up experiencing pain in your armpits or fabric burn.
  • Before performing a move make sure you know what each move should look like. It helps to see yourself while performing so you are able to correct yourself. Ways to do this could be videotaping yourself or performing in front of a mirror.


Aerial Silks Lingo

Here is the common lingo and slang in Aerial Silks:

  • Acrobalance: This is a movement that’s goal is to build acrobatic strength.
  • Aerial Hoop: A metal hoop a performer uses while suspended in midair.
  • Back Balance: A move that requires a performer to wrap silk around their hips while balancing in the air with their torso facing upwards towards the ceiling.
  • Cerceaux: An aerial hoop or Lyra.
  • Climb: Moving yourself up an apparatus or an aerial silk.
  • Contortion: A movement done to focus on stretching and improving the flexibility of the muscles and spine.
  • Descent: When a performer moves down an apparatus or aerial silk.
  • Hip Lock: Is when a silk is securely wrapped around your hips. This is what allows you to remain suspended in the air.
  • Lyra: Another word for aerial hoop.
  • Silks: A long piece of fabric that is loosely wrapped so performers are able to perform aerial moves while balancing in midair.


Competitions in aerial silks take place across the globe. The two most popular competitions are the World Dance Movement and the Aerialympics. These competitions give aerial silk performers a chance to compete in a variety of age ranges and categories. The age range for these competitions spans from 7 years old to over 40 years old. These competitions are judged by experienced performers and choreographers.

Here are the most popular tournaments in Aerial Silks:

World Dance Movement: An international aerial competition where performers compete from over 25 countries around the world. This competition includes age groups ranging from 7-11 years old to 40+ years old. It also has a variety of categories, including a soloist, duo, and trio category.

Aerialympics: A variety of competitions around the United States where aerial performers compete. There is a national event where the best performers all over the United States compete against one another. There are a variety of age groups based on the level and age of competitors. In addition, there are many categories to compete in, including exotic pole, pole art, pole fit, hammock, lyra, silks, and specialty.