Aerial work is growing in popularity in the dance world these days. Don't believe us? Check out this Dance Magazine article! If you're a studio owner who didn't grow up with aerial training (let's face it, how many of us really did?), then you may be feeling a little apprehensive about what to look for when bringing on a new aerialist faculty member. You know exactly what you want from your ballet teachers, your jazz teachers, your tap teachers, heck—even your tumbling teachers! Aerial, however, is a whole other ballgame.
To help you feel confident you're bringing in a teacher who is safe for your dancers, we sat down with Lani Corson, NYC aerialist, circus performer, adjunct professor at Pace University and teacher at Aerial Arts NYC, to get the inside scoop on exactly what you should be looking for.
Where should studio owners start their hunt for an aerial teacher?
"If you have any aerial-specific studios in your city, that's your best bet. There are also aerial-teacher trainings out there now that you can look into—just make sure you make certain they are reputable. It's a relatively small world, so ask around and check credentials."
What kind of credentials should a potential aerial teacher have in order to be safe for your students?
"Years of experience training, teaching and, if possible, performing (though this isn't essential, because there aren't a lot of performance opportunities in certain parts of the country). I myself trained for a long time, performed for a long time, and then was mentored for a long time, before I began teaching. This experience prepared me to be an educator. Also, be sure the teacher has a knowledge of safety rigging so you can keep your dancers out of harm's way. You should hire a rigger regardless, but the person teaching should also have a solid understanding of the system."
What red flags should studio owners be aware of?
"If someone has only been doing aerial for six months, you definitely shouldn't hire them. And, of course, like any discipline, someone can be a gorgeous performer, but not the greatest teacher. Make sure whoever you hire is gifted at teaching something challenging. Your dancers will get discouraged when they can't immediately do certain things, and they will need a teacher who knows how to navigate that."
What is the benefit of having a regular aerial teacher on staff?
"This is a discipline that only gets better the more you do it. The strength needed is hard to develop with spotty classes here or there. Aerial Is becoming more mainstream in commercial dance and musical theater, and anything you can do to help set your students apart will benefit them."