She is known as an aerial acrobat both, in her home country and abroad. Not many know what stands behind her 10 years long effort thanks to which anyone can enrol for an aerial silk course in Košice. The following article talks about the first steps of Ariadna Vendelová towards the dream of establishing an aerial centre in the city and how she motivates in learning alternative dance moves.
Having been dancing since early childhood, she has always had something to do with the movement. Ariadna heard about aerial acrobatics for the first time during her school exchange in America – the fascination emerged from dancing in the air concept. She started with it years later, however, all thanks to an accidental meeting with a friend. Ariadna was asked to perform in her first aerial part as an alter ego partner in Ja&Ja piece: “I started practising aerial silks rather roughly and all of a sudden. As there was no other option, we would meet at The State Theatre Košice at 5 AM. 4 months of this heavy training exhausted me incredibly. All of my former activities went aside and I couldn’t bear the tempo after the performance was done. I stopped with the silks for a year and a half. I thought I would never get back to it,” admits Ariadna.
Drill and persistence
A year and a half passed and Ariadna encountered an aerial hoop exercise. Her acrobatic story continues to swirl around a constant training on the hoop and, eventually, returning back to the silks. Everything by herself and without a mentor to navigate and help with the correct technique, though. Ariadna needed to find out many of these alone, often through online video channels. She was also on a neverending lookout for space where to practice: “Hard work, fails, determination and self-learning during those first few years of aerial acrobatics have actually formed my own distinctive style of performing. I often hear people referring to it. It took me all these years to understand and acquire the technique so I could start with exploring what’s behind the horizons of known. To pursue the creative and crave for the untested. To come up with something new or at least to look for it. It seems as if I was just getting somewhere over these last ten years so that the most interesting period could start now.”
Public aerial silk course
To see tens of girls surrounding Arianda during the public mid-term performance definitely calls for touched feels – especially if one is familiar with the years of hard work allowing this woman to achieve her goals. From informal classes for friends, finding the right spot, introspection, burns and bruises – Ariadna got a call from the Private elementary art school Hviezdička director. He wanted to widen the selection of school’s movement courses: “They bought silks and a lot of my former students/friends enrolled for the course. And more importantly, many new ones as well. That’s how we’ve been doing it for four years. Some of my students have advanced so significantly that two of them, Alena Findrik Balogová and Katarína Sobinkovičová, started to teach two groups. It came as a great opportunity for my own activities and at the same time a new role of a mother.”
The instant vs. gradual
What is it really like to dance on aerial silks several metres high above the ground level? Ariadna calls it numerous names – patience, humbleness, ‘long-distance run’. Some beginners often quit the course after a short period because they get tired of waiting for immediate results: “Muscles need time and you just cannot trick certain bodily processes. A lot of students leave – they do not have that kind of real commitment to overcome the first year when you don’t see the visible effect yet. Aerial acrobatics stands opposite the modern and instant era we live in. Moreover, I also believe in tendon/muscle development in accordance with the person’s age. I’ve noticed that sometimes it takes four seasons for a body to undergo transformative progress, integrate the changes and move on. It gradually evolves and gets stronger.”
Based on gathered experience and considerable know-how, a systematic syllabus/system for teaching aerial classes has been adopted. When talking about the known and yet non-existent world of aerial pieces holding the performance together, Ariadna also mentions the creativity in new learning methodology. Her own specification is breathing exercise, as she herself says: “I am currently in the state of putting all the knowledge for teaching together. I have been focusing on breathing as a part of an aerial exercise during these last few years. That’s something rather rare in the aerial world. To teach my students how to breathe properly brings out a completely different way how to approach movement as such.”
Her own aerial centre dream
Along this long journey, Ariadna Vendelová has started dreaming about her own aerial centre which could encompass a vast variety of movement genres – not necessarily connected to dance: “Already as an Escalator programme participant, I recognized the need to distinguish between my own activities and brand with the aerial acrobatics course we have taught in Košice for four years now. The most important was to define La Lyra (Academy) – the aerial silk course at SZUŠ from my own activities under the label of Ariadnina niť. To understand the distinction of both enabled me to move on with both platforms.” Ariadna is currently staying in Prague, working on her solo performance with French choreographer Fred Deb. Afterwards, she’ll travel to Dublin to team up with international performers.
Feeling like pulling-up and stand upside down? Enrol at Private elementary art school Hviezdička, aerial acrobatics programme. Amazed and eager to watch some of Ariadna’s performances? Check out her fan page to stay tuned for upcoming events. And would like to stay at design hotel rooms able to discover city’s local face? Book your room with The Invisible Hotel.
extra photos: Martin Mitula, Pierre E.R. Photographie