New students walk through the Sky Candy doors every day — and the vast majority of them want to learn aerial silks. It’s definitely the apparatus people are most familiar with and the one most strongly identified with modern circus training. But did you know that silks have a slightly less well-known cousin? Please allow us to introduce you to the aerial hammock or sling. While you might associate the hammock with aerial yoga, at our Austin circus school, it’s actually a beautiful, versatile apparatus that allows for dazzling feats of strength, dynamic movement, and a wide range of stretching and conditioning options. Here’s a quick introduction to what aerial hammock is and why you might want to give it a try.
What Is the Hammock?
At the most basic level, a hammock is a set of aerial silks hung upside down. If you’ve looked closely at the silks, you know that the fabric loops through the metal rescue-8 up by the rigging point and comes down from the ceiling in two pieces. To rig a hammock, we take that same piece of fabric, pull the two end pieces through the rescue-8 and keep the loop at the bottom for the performer to sit, stand, or lie in. We rig our hammocks on a single point, from a single rescue-8. Aerial yoga, on the other hand, usually uses two rigging points, set a small distance apart, creating a wider opening for the student to move in. Aerial yoga hammocks are also rigged much closer to the floor, as students often perform poses with one foot on the ground. While some aerial hammock performers also work low (check out Sky Candy visiting instructor Jenn Bruyer’s dance hammock work for example), most like to incorporate dramatic drops and other skills that require a higher rigging point. (We’ll explore the differences between aerial hammock and aerial yoga in-depth in an upcoming post!)
Who Should Train on the Hammock?
If your interest in circus training has been piqued by silks, but you’re still developing your short arm strength, you might like the resting spot the hammock loop provides. Being able to pause between moves allows students to develop longer aerial sequences, increasing strength and stamina quickly. The hammock is an incredibly versatile apparatus, as a single skill might take you from sitting to standing, upright to inverted. And if you’ve got the taste for adrenaline-inducing drops, the hammock has them all — forwards, backwards, sideways, and in various combinations. Once you’re done training, use the loop to open your shoulders and stretch your splits (or oversplits!). Silks students who come to hammock find a lot of crossover in the vocabulary; often the hammock skill just has a slightly different setup. Trapeze students will also find that, while made of far less rigid materials, the hammock has a similar shape to their native apparatus and shares some of the same skills. Your front balance might feel different on fabric, but it’s still a front balance!
Test-Drive the Hammock
Hammock is always included in our weekly drop-in Intro to Aerials classes and as part of our kids classes. If you fall in love, our Austin circus school teaches aerial hammock to all levels, from total beginners to advanced practitioners. We provide performance opportunities throughout the year to those so inclined and always make our students’ safety a top priority.