Supported with nothing but a lightweight strand of silk tissue, suspended 30 feet in the air, heart pumping, then tumbling in a downward spiral, all while maintaining poise and grace, aerial dancing is anything but your average sequence of dance moves. To gain some insight to this high-flying art, we turned to Southern California based aerial expert, Ruby Karen.
All About Aerial
While you might think aerial dancing is only for circus performers, Ruby ensures us that it is not as intimidating as it looks. Incorporating dance and fitness elements both on ground and on aerial levels, aerial dance is easily customizable to any fitness level and quickly gaining acceptance as a pedestrian-friendly activity. Ruby starts each aerial dance class with stretching, a warm-up on the ground, and a review of the moves learned from the previous class. Once in air, various apparatuses are used including silk (also known as tissue or fabric), a hoop (or a Lyra), a hammock and a trapeze apparatus to facilitate various moves and techniques.
“The first time you experience that rush of falling through the air, you are in heaven. The feeling is similar to riding a roller coaster,the adrenaline rush is addicting, leaving you craving more and more!”
Proponents of aerial dance are fans of the artistry and grace that ensue from regular practice, while also gaining posture, flexibility and strength. Additionally, aerial dance has been proven to be an effective, and fun, muscle forming and sculpting weight loss program. But really anyone can benefit from some time in the air. Ruby’s students come from all different backgrounds, ages, shapes and fitness levels. “For many of my students with desk jobs, aerial dancing is their therapy and something they look forward to coming to after work,” Ruby shares.
Up, Up, and Away!
Ruby Karen’s training in dance started in her early childhood. Coming from a family of nine siblings, the luxury of going to ballet class was not afforded to her. Rather, she saved up her school allowance to pay for her tuition, and graciously accepted hand-me-down dance attire and pointe (toe) shoes. Today, Ruby is a veteran in the performing arts industry with 35 years experience in the field of dance, circus aerials, sports, and fitness, having taught and performed continuously in at least 20 countries and 50 cities with repeated invitations. She has garnered three world titles, namely, the Ballet Pas de Deux (Dance for Two) and Acro-Gymnastics partnering with the highly established World Championship of Performing Arts, and The Mayan World Salsa Championship–Professional Division. She made her television debut on the reality show So You Think You Can Dance where she, as the assistant choreographer, not only taught and demonstrated the demanding salsa routine, but also shared with the contestants her secrets in the execution of the tricks.
Ruby Karen Project
Ruby Karen, together with husband, Luca Cecchini, directors and faculty of the Orange County Aerial Arts, an aerial/dance school and production company, opened their school in 2009. Now, the Ruby Karen Project is the operating arm of the Orange County Aerial Arts. Currently, she can be spotted teaching throughout Southern California in Costa Mesa, Fountain Valley and Downtown Los Angeles.
“I love to see my students improve. I ask them where they want to be and how far they want to take their practice and then implement baby steps to get them there.”
In addition to aerial dance, Ruby also teaches acrobatic partnering (twice the fun of going solo!), ballet, jazz, modern, salsa (along with other Latin dances) and Danceflex: a combination of dance, flexibility and core strength. Bringing her experience and knowledge of dance to the mainstream, Ruby dedicates her time to educating others to pursue what is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful and artistic physical outlets available. For more information about the Ruby Karen Project or aerial dancing, visit www.rubykaren.com.