Greetings Fellow Flyers!
So you’ve just received your shiny new aerial rigging and glowing silks. You’re ready to rig up and start practicing anywhere you can find. Here are a few tips we’ve learned throughout our years of practicing, performing and teaching…
The sound of rigging hitting the floor, concrete or any other hard surface makes me cringe. Yes, I know these pieces of metal are weight tested and guaranteed to hold up in extreme temperatures and circumstances. But I don’t like to risk it. I think of rigging like a motorcycle helmet…once it’s hit the ground, it’s strength against future impact is reduced. And besides, I just paid a lot of money for this equipment, so I want it to last! Investing in a rigging bag and always handling rigging carefully is my preference. Ultimately, this is the major component that has to suspend me, and I want to treat it as preciously as my personal safety.
What type of rigging should you buy? Industry standard is auto-locking steel carabiners. Rescue 8s and Swivels are aluminum, but the density and function of these parts are widely accepted. My preference is steel over aluminum carabiners if at all possible. If the steel is wearing down, you will visually see it bend before a break, and you’ll know it’s time to retire that carabiner full of memories. (This is another reason why I like to see my rigging point while practicing or performing!) Aluminum does not visually cue you as to when it is tired, it will just break. A little forewarning can make all the difference!
Aerial Silks are strong, but they are strongest when hung as silks. When hanging your silks as a hammock, the amount of weight is only on one spread-out section of the fabric, verses the silks where the weight is dispersed. When Rachel and I took intensives at Bumbershoot in St. Louis, the founder Joelle mentioned that she always rotated her hammock drop point. Meaning, you don’t always have to tie up your hammock evenly on each side. Move it around so you’re working on different sections of the fabric. Also, watch for fabric tears and holes (we always trim our nails and check for costume snags). If you see them, repair them before using your hammock again.
And lastly, hanging out just anywhere. Yes, we all want to rig to anything possible, but unfortunately we can’t know the safety of that point. Nichole’s back yard tree was our favorite summertime practice area. A 30′ high canopy…who could ask for more? After years of practicing and rehearsing there, this spring the branch came down with a high wind. Luckily, no one was on the branch when it came down, but the point is you never know. There’s no way of knowing if a tree branch can suspend dynamic weight and for how long. And if you must, consider moving your point and rotating branches, so that you’re always giving the tree a rest.
We all take risks in what we do, and the safer we are in our risks, the more aerial experiences we will have! Happy flying!