The Transformative Power of Trying Something New

The most common excuse-slash-insecurity I hear from people about aerial arts is “Oh that looks so COOL and fun! But I don’t have any upper body strength, and I’m afraid of heights, so I could NEVER do that.”

  1. You do not need any upper body strength to start aerial. We build it by practicing.

  2. We do not make beginners go up high. Also, silks are way less scary than other “high up” things. (Every aerialist I know is way more spooked by the ladder we use to rig!)

  3. Mostly this statement says “I really thing that is super neat but I am so afraid of trying something new and failing at it.”

As adults, it’s so very easy to succumb to habit, routine, and comfort and just do what we always do. While there’s nothing wrong with any of that, we also don’t get challenged when we get into ruts - not physically or personally. There’s not a whole of room to GROW inside a rut!

It’s also a scary thing to try something so new and unknown! Almost every student I’ve ever had has come to classes anxious about what they’re supposed to do and whether they’ll be “good enough.” (There’s no such thing. If you tried something on the silks today, you were good enough!) They worry they aren’t strong enough (if you keep practicing, you will get strong enough!). They worry they will look silly, or fall, or get stuck. (You will. We all do. I will fail at stuff as I’m teaching it to you. Embracing the awkward is a major life skill taught by circus arts!).

But the other thing I see in almost every student is the day they stop being afraid and start being determined, and proud. I see the first time they get their climbs off the ground, the first time they invert, the first time they get to the top of the silks, the day they land that nemesis move, and I see the beams of TRIUMPH.

I see people in my classes become so very delighted in how strong they have gotten. I hear people tell me they would have never believed they’d be able to do something so awesome. I see people’s tears of pure joy when they finally nail something so difficult for them, and learn how their hard work and perseverance really paid off.

I see my students make dear friends in my classes. I hear people come to me and tell me how much they love the community; how now they have a place to come to work on their whole well-being, to come feel accepted, to come feel challenged, to come to feel safe taking big risks.

I see them all grow. Every single one. And I am SO PROUD of every one of them, every day.

Now, how about you? Would you like to come transform yourself too? We’d love to have you.

Welcome to the Swing State Store!

Swing State is hitting our two-year anniversary! In that time we’ve gone from 6 students to over 60. Whew! It’s been a really fun, wild ride!

It also means that our administrative work has increased 10+-fold. We’ve recently discovered that trying to handle registrations via a two-step process of a form and then a separate payment process is too unwieldy when you have this many students. For those of you that bore with us during this last session’s unsmooth registration, thank you!

To solve most of this problem, we created a store!! You can now register and pay for your classes directly on our website, even open-level practice and single drop-in classes for the upper-level students. Returning students can also use the store to register even while paying with a check.

This change has caused our prices to increase just slightly to offset our new processing costs, but hopefully the new easier process makes it worth it for everyone!

Big Changes!
Goodbye first Madison Circus Space! You have served us so well!

Goodbye first Madison Circus Space! You have served us so well!

Swing State Aerial is making some big changes this year! In addition to bringing on two new teachers and Stephanie starting to teach as well, saying a fond goodbye to Karen as she focuses on other elements of circus work (aerialists with prior training can still take cloud swing lessons from her!), we are also going to be moving around a lot in the coming year. 

As many of our students and followers are aware, Madison Circus Space, our class location and home base, is a part of the big redevelopment project on the 2100 Winnebago Block. MCS is rebuilding in a slightly different location, along with CoHo Madison's cooperative housing and arts space. We are so excited for a bigger, custom-built MCS!! If you are excited too, please help out the MCS Capital Campaign with a donation or pledge (there's a big matching campaign on as well - right now you double your dollars!)

In the meantime, as the current buildings come down over the summer, we will be relocating in a number of ways. Firstly, MCS will have a temporary space (still to be finalized, but likely a location not far away just off Milwaukee Street), Swing State is looking for other spaces that can host us, and we are planning on a purchase of a portable aerial rig for outdoor classes and practice time. 

Mackenzie is also attending an aerial retreat with Paper Doll Militia in May, which will put silks classes on hold for a few weeks!

Swing State Aerial will have very limited room for beginning or new students until late May or June this year, but look for new sessions from us this summer when we've gotten settled in new places and new routines!  In the meantime, please contact us if you'd like to be on a waitlist for a first chance at spots in classes that open up this summer. 

Happy flying, and have an excellent spring!

It's that time of year!
SSA Water Festive.GIF

The holidays are upon us again! We at Swing State firmly believe in the idea of gifting experiences to your loved ones - things they will carry with them much longer than any stuff you could buy! 

New silks series are starting right after the new year, and we are happy to help you make a gift of classes. In addition to registering your favorite person, we can create gift certificates and help you get a water bottle, sweatshirt or tank top on our Spreadshirt Shop, so your gift is as fun to open as it is to use.  

If your favorite person is already a Swing State Student, we can create a gift certificate for class or practice credit, or help you figure out what at-home equipment or goodies might be great for your student, as well! 

As always, we do not recommend purchasing silks or trying to rig in your home for a student who is below intermediate level, or if you haven't consulted a rigger and/or engineer to make sure you can rig safely. For more information, take a look at our Gifting Dos and Don'ts

Don't forget that classes are also a great way to fulfill many New Year's resolutions! They do fill up fast, so if you're going to resolve to get fit or get a sweet new hobby or join a new community this year, sign up now! 

Thank you for all your support this year, and have a happy holiday season! 

New Beginner Silks Series Starting November 5 AND New Trapeze Classes!!

A new introductory 6-week small-group session for beginning silks will start on November 5, 2017. Classes will meet on Sundays from 1-2 pm running through December 17, 2017. (No class on Nov. 26).

This class series will address fundamental silks skills of climbing, locks, and balances. You don't need to be strong or fit to start!  Small-group classes will move at the pace of the students and focus on developing technique and strength as we go. (But you will get a picture of yourself looking badass during every class if you want one!)

In even bigger news, Swing State Aerial will soon be offering private lessons and small group classes in dance trapeze! We are excited to welcome our friend Isis to Swing State Aerial. Isis is an incredibly strong and beautiful aerialist, with in-depth knowledge of the mechanics of human bodies and an inclusive approach to teaching. Trapeze classes will begin sometime around the new year - please email us if you'd like to get on a waiting list!

Email us or fill out our registration form to sign up - space is limited to 6 students at maximum, so don't wait!

We can't wait to fly with you!

Stephanie, Karen, Isis, and Mackenzie

Stephanie, Karen, Isis, and Mackenzie

Try It Out and New Beginners Silks Series Start in May

Have you been lurking on this blog, and lots of aerial blogs, and instagram, and youtube, thinking to yourself "oh I wish I could do that..." but not sure if you REALLY can? Come to a Try It Out class!  

These classes are a fun, one-time class that let you get a taste of what an aerial silks beginner practice is like with no obligation. If you decide it's not right for you, you'll still have some great pictures and fond memories!   The next open-registration Try It Out class is Sunday, May 7 from 1-2 pm. Try It Out class also can be scheduled with your friends at your convenience, and they make a great birthday, shower, or party* outing! 

If you come to a Try It Out and love it, or already know this is the art-cercise for you, a new Beginner Silks Class Series begins on Sunday, May 21 at 1 pm.  Email us or submit the registration form on our class page to sign up! 

*No alcohol is allowed on the premises, and anyone who has consumed alcohol or other substances will be prohibited from participating in any class activities except watching and being jealous. 


New student Karen shows her excitement about her first masthead pose in her first class

Effective Warmups

It's really common in any discipline for a "warm up" to consist of some half-hearted stretching while gossiping with your classmates about the last GoT episode or how much you drank last night or what cute thing your dog did this morning. 

It should not surprise anyone that the only muscles that get warmed up this way are your jaws. 

While stretching can be part of an effective warmup, warmups should focus more on *movement.*  Getting blood flow to muscles you're about to move, getting your heart rate up, pushing joints through their range of motion to get out any pops, snaps, or creakies, and wiggling out any stiffness. 

There's any number of great ways to do this, but Mackenzie's favorite for her silks classes involves forcing everyone to dance to The Fitness Marshall videos, which hits all of the above goals! Her current favorite is an excellent shoulder warmup and a great chance to show the whole room your sweet moves!

Regardless of how you do it, before your next class, stop sitting on your booty and start shakin' it instead!!


New session for beginner silks starts January 29!

A new introductory 6-week small-group session for beginning silks will start on January 29, 2017. Classes will meet on Sundays from 1-2 pm running through March 5, 2017. 

This class series will address fundamental silks skills of climbing, locks, and balances. You don't need to be strong or fit to start!  Small-group classes will move at the pace of the students and focus on developing technique and strength as we go. (But you will get a picture of yourself looking badass during every class if you want one!)

Email us or fill out our registration form to sign up - space is limited to 6 students at maximum, so don't wait!

We can't wait to fly with you!

Swing State Aerial student Courtney during class #5

Swing State Aerial student Courtney during class #5

New Year's Resolutions are almost here!

Losing weight and getting fit are two of the most common resolutions! Are they yours? What about getting over a fear of heights? Being more creative? Being a badass? Making new friends? Connecting to a new community? Trying something new? Trying something scary? Just getting more active? 

Swing State Aerial can help you with any of these, and more!  Just email us or use our Contact Us form to inquire about the most fun you'll ever have while working out! 

Aerial Silks for Holiday Gifts: Dos and Don'ts!

Aerial silks is a beautiful, exciting art, and we get lots of questions around the holidays about how to gift silks. Here are some dos and don'ts! 

Don't: Purchase silks for very-new beginners. Beginning students should always work with instruction and supervision, and no one should ever work on silks alone

Don't:  Attempt to rig from your apartment, house, garage, or porch ceiling, or a swingset without a professional rigger (and sometimes a structural engineer or architect) assessing the safety and feasibility of the rig. Silks can put thousands of pounds of pressure on a point, and can produce a lot of movement that regular construction is not built to withstand. Generally, rigging in your home will take construction upgrades!

Don't: Attempt to rig a silk from items that you buy from your local hardware or home improvement store. These items are NOT RATED TO LIFT HUMANS SAFELY. 

Don't: Buy random fabric at a store or website. Fabrics for aerial are specifically tested and rated and sold for aerial use. 

Do: If you're really committed to having a rig point at home, research rated, freestanding aerial rigs. They are the safest way to get a rig point quickly and easily, and they come in a variety of styles and heights (including ones that will fit indoors!)

Do: Always purchase a crash mat!

Do: Purchase locking carabiners, swivels, and rescue-8s from reputable climbing supply resources that are rated at 22kN or above. 

Do: Consult with your instructor about what kind of equipment might be right for you or your giftee, or if a class pack would make a better gift. 

Do: Consider purchasing a class series or private lesson pack instead! It's always safer to work with an instructor with inspected, professionally rigged equipment. Swing State Aerial classes or punch cards make perfect gifts!! 

Happy Holidays from Swing State Aerial!

Happy holidays! Swing State Aerial hopes you have a lovely winter season and enjoy all the great food, events, family, and friends. 

If you are looking for the perfect experience-oriented gift, a great way to meet your New Year's resolutions to get fit, get over that fear of heights, be more active, be more artistic, or just be an all-around badass, or just a way to help work off your holiday pounds and work out the winter blues, Swing State Aerial has got you covered!

You can purchase private lessons individually or in a punch-card, or a class series for yourself or that hard-to-buy-for family member or friend at any time! Use our contact form or email us for more information! 



Mackenzie, Isis, and Stephanie during a 2015 holiday gig. 

Mackenzie, Isis, and Stephanie during a 2015 holiday gig. 

Mackenzieholiday, gift, classes
Help! My feet look TERRIBLE!!

One of the most common aesthetic trials with new students is trouble with pointing the toes. Sometimes new students just take awhile to remember to point their foot, but sometimes other issues are causing the problem. A lack of strength in the foot and the ankle can cause all kinds of ugly points, from scrunched-up tootsies to a sickled foot (and sickled feet can mean ankle damage!). 

Luckily, weak and inflexible feet are easy to work on any old time at home with just your basic resistance bands, and a chair.  Laura Witwer of SassyPants Aerial has awesomely put together videos on how to banish boy-point, sickled feet, and generally lazy toes. Check out the playlist and get working on your pretty points!! 


Welcome to Swing State Aerial!

Welcome to Swing State Aerial! We are three aerial instructors, performers, and promoters,  Mackenzie, Karen, and Stephanie. We offer a variety of services in circus arts, from teaching a variety of aerial apparatus in private, small-group, and mixed apparatus classes to directing local arts shows and performing at public and private events.

We currently have class offerings for beginner aerial silks, and beginner to intermediate cloud swing, with new opportunities coming soon.We are really excited about our student-focused, individually-paced classes that help our new aerialists discover their gifts and challenges. With backgrounds in dance and physical therapy, we focus on alignment, engagement, and technique to help beginners take flight!

We are also excited to start making resources, tips, tricks, spectacular videos, and notices about performing opportunities and events available to our students and followers through this website as well. Keep watching for more!

We can't wait to fly with you!