Don’t try aerials at home
October 28, 2008
When Julianna Hane dances, she literally floats.
A lithe 26-year-old, Hane dangles upside down from lengths of polyester fabric, suspended only by her feet. She climbs, twists, spins and enfolds herself in bed sheets hung several feet above the ground.
Her coordination is uncanny, a spider in its web. Her grace is, in a word, freakish.
It takes the balance of a tightrope walker, the strength of a trapeze artist and the bravado of a daredevil to attempt aerial stunts like the ones Hane performs. Danger is written in every move as an implicit warning: Don’t try this at home.
Now you can.
"Anyone who wants to learn can learn," she said. "We’re form-fitted."
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Hane has been teaching aerial dance classes in Sugar House since March. Her studio, Aerial Dance Revolution, offers beginning and intermediate classes.
Park City residents may recognize her from her stunts from the Main Street Bridge at the Park Silly Market’s Oktoberfest celebration on Sept. 28. She is in her second year as a graduate student in modern dance at the University of Utah, but already has attracted students from across the state. She is holding a holiday performance Dec. 11, 12 and 13 at her studio and wants to one day teach in Park City.
Her students range in age from 13 to 60 and come in all sizes. Some are thin and flexible. Others are not. "There are a lot of non-dancers in my class," she explained in a telephone interview Monday. "You just have to take it one step at a time." The workout borrows from yoga because of its reliance on flexibility and strength training that allows participants to use their own body weight to gain muscle.
Hane’s students begin on the floor, learning tricks. The next step is to attempt moves off the ground. If participants lose their balance, they can hop down without hurting themselves.
Hane studied ballet, modern and jazz dance as a young girl in Ft. Motte, S.C. She was exposed to aerial dance in 2001, as an undergraduate, when her college instructor asked the class to choreograph a midair performance. From the beginning, Hane was a natural. What attracted her to the sport wasn’t just innate ability, though. It was also a desire to break away from the strict rules that govern ballet. "I don’t think my dancing should be defined by the shape of my body," she said matter-of-factly.
Aerial dance was born out of modern dance and circus skills. (She also teaches moves on the trapeze, rope and harness and lyra hoops.)
Performers must have almost flawless technique while flying through the air: More of a cartographer than a choreographer, Hane has to map every move well in advance to keep from falling. The task takes upper-body strength and focus. She also finds herself asking how to turn circus skills into fluid artistic expressions.
"You have a different relationship to space," she said. "It’s very sensorial. When I’m performing and my body knows the moves, I’m very in the moment."
Want to Fly?
For more information on Revolve Aerial Dance classes, call 803-974-9423 or visit revolveaerialdance.com.