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The Aerial Hoop

If you’ve never had the good fortune to witness a aerial show, especially a show involving an aerial hoop performance, you’re missing out. Aerial hooping involves as much strength, flexibility, and grace as aerial silk does. It also comes with it’s own set of challenges due to the strong metal hoop that supports the performer as they move through a series of postures and movements.


Aerial Hoop, photo courtesy of Zen Arts

Aerial hooping is also known as lyra or cerceau. Aerial acrobatics evolved from the high wire and simple trapeze swinging acts, both inspired by the sport of gymnastics. Aerial hooping is similar to some styles of gymnastics, but is performed as an art form instead of a competitive sport. It is also a popular fitness activity, as the poses and movements involved work to tone the whole body and improve flexibility.

A large metal hoop, often resembling a metal hula hoop or a similar circle with a flattened top, is suspended from the ceiling. It may be only a few inches off the ground, or 10 feet high in the air. Most aerial hooping performers climb onto the hoop, and then are lifted into the air. Aerial hoops, like aerial silk, are usually installed in a studio or other practice space instead of in one’s home.

Aerial hooping performers climb, swing, and pose around and in the hoop. You’re just as likely to see the performer hanging from one ankle from the hoop as you are to watch them hold themselves in a strange contortion high above the stage. This art form is slightly less free flowing than aerial silk, due to the rigid hoop in place of flexible silk. But this doesn’t mean that the performance is less impressive or inspiring.

Aerial hoops may be held in place, swing gently, or spin during the performance. Some performers use two or more hoops in their act, or share a hoop with another performer for a double act. Aerial hooping has been combined with aerial silk, but it is rare to see a performer using both at the same time.

The metal hoops come in two main configurations. One features a single tab, which is the harness that secures the hoop to it’s connecting chain or rope. A single tab hoop spins and swings easier, but is less stable and will rotate if used for certain poses. A double tab hoop features two connections, adding balance and stability to the hoop for difficult poses.

Aerial hooping is a beautiful art form. Due to it’s popularity, many gyms and fitness clubs now offer courses incorporating a hanging metal hoop. One of the oldest and most respected forms in the aerial tradition, aerial hoops help graceful performers create stunning displays of skill high above the stage.

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One response to “The Aerial Hoop”

  1. Kirsten says:

    do you know where the aerial hoop originates or who invented it??

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