Graduation Year


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Kevin Williamson

Reader 2

Me Jolley

Rights Information



This project reimagines how to approach aerial silks skills and the required body coordination/spatial awareness. The discipline of aerial circus blends dance and gymnastics to create an athletic and artistic form that occurs suspended above the ground. The suspended nature of aerial circus forces aerialists to engage with the space around them and control their bodies in ways not encountered in ground-based activities. In the air, aerialists must navigate their relation to gravity, head orientation, limb placement in space, and proprioception in new ways. The traditional aerial circus coaching methods used lack sufficient ways to instruct how students to coordinate their bodies and articulate conceptual movement patterns. Using the somatic frameworks of Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analysis (L/BMA) and Alexander Technique (AT), one aerialist critically analyzed her current aerial circus training practice and tricks students commonly report having difficulty learning. New approaches were then formulated incorporating techniques from L/BMA, Alexander Technique, and body mapping to alter an aerialist’s personal training. After exploring familiar tricks, she applied this method of training to learning new aerial silks tricks. For beginning aerialists these traditional methods can prevent progress as students struggle to comprehend how to use their bodies in the required manner. Advance aerialists can use these methods to increase understanding when learning new tricks either in a class or from videos. This somatic-based approach to learning aerial silks helps aerialists deepen their mastery of skills, movement patterning, and body-spatial awareness. Aerialist can use to more effectively and efficiently distill complex aerial silks skills and overcome training struggles.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.