Take Flight at A2 Aviary; Feathers Optional

Ann Arbor’s Aerial and Circus Arts Gym

For those who have dreamed of running away with the circus— before you pack your bags, visit the Ann Arbor Aviary to perfect your aerial skills. Aspiring trapeze artists needn’t have any prior dance or gymnastics experience to enroll in the continuously-running introductory course.

On a Friday evening, Aviary owner Anne Ryan observes two instructors leading four youngsters (ranging in age from 8-17) in a Youth Intro to Aerial Arts course. Nestled in the shadow of the 777 Building, The Aviary has occupied the space at 2875 Boardwalk for three years. 

Three years prior, when Ryan grew weary of traveling to train at Detroit Flyhouse, which bills itself as “Metro Detroit’s Original Circus School,” Aviary launched her business just up State Street. Ryan observes course instruction but leaves the details to the experts. “I let my instructors manage their own curriculum. They are far better educated than I am,” confesses Ryan, as one of her instructors helps a young student perfect a “Mermaid Position” on the static trapeze. The instructors gently guide students and encourage confidence, which is reinforced by classmates’ cheers, as they look to perfect new moves among one another. 

Camaraderie first 

While competition takes a back seat to camaraderie, here, the competitive spirit still thrives. Much to Ryan’s delight, students seek to celebrate accomplishments, which helps to nurture a self-sustaining culture of encouragement.

Cognizant of the challenges of working with beginners, Ryan, herself, took flight for the first time in 2009, and take-off didn’t go as smoothly as one might expect: “[After] I started,” recalls Ryan, “… I stayed at Beginner Level for forever.” Beginner Level is where students form the foundation to build future skills, so it’s critical they are able to execute fundamental moves before advancing to the next level confidently. For kids, that process entails a month-long course advancing to “Aerial Skills,” while adults can select their apparatus of focus. Offerings at The Aviary include silks, static trapeze (hung from two points), and dance trapeze (finite space prevents The Aviary from teaching flying trapeze). 

Beginner coursework offers the opportunity for students to learn proper mounting and dismounting techniques on two different apparatuses, as well as instruction on proper body positioning and safe movements. While students under 8-years-old are only offered private, one-on-one lessons, The Aviary offers group lessons for students ages 8-17. Beginning adults (18+) can jump right into Aerial Boot Camp, which focuses on building strength and developing the core and upper body muscles necessary for the artform. An additional Instructor Training Program ensures offerings for all levels, from absolute beginner to veteran Flight Crew. 

For the opportunity to fly through the air with the greatest of ease, Ann Arbor Aviary is the place to start. 

To learn more or to purchase tickets for the studio’s upcoming “Wild Things” showcase at 7pm on Saturday, April 25, visit www.A2aviary.com.

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