Float in the air on aerial silks
BY ASHLEY LUCKEE
OU News Bureau
Ringstar Studio in Ann Arbor offers such classes as yoga, capoeira, which is a Brazilian mixed martial art, and aerial silks.
Diane Barbeau leased the building and created Ringstar in 2013 because she was part of a sword-fighting club with nowhere to practice.
Barbeau has four years of experience with aerial silks and seven years with staged combat. Barbeau said Cirque Du Soleil show “La Nouba” inspired her to start aerial silks, along with a friend’s encouragement.
“A friend of mine brought her silks to a swordplay rehearsal and a swordplay club… so we got our own set and I started teaching myself,” Barbeau said.
She makes sure that aerial silks classes go smoothly, guiding students along.
“If I see something that a lot of the people need, especially if they need a forearm stretch and if they’re not sure how to do it, I’ll take everyone through this part of the class,” Barbeau said.
Aerial silks use every muscle in the body to lift up and twist around the silks. Different poses can be achieved by twisting different parts of the body around the silks.
Barbeau said that the most revenue and people come to the aerial silks classes. Ringstar has a personal trainer from Forge Fitness in during the day to teach one-on-one fitness. Classes such as aerial silks and staged combat are later in the evening.
“Once evening comes, starting at 5 o’clock, that’s when we have boot camps and we have all of our classes then,” Barbeau said.
These classes are smaller, about 10 per class. Eight instructors teach at Ringstar. This studio is unusual because it is hard to find a place that will allow staged combat, as most studios won’t allow real swords to be brought in.
The staged combat classes use real swords to teach students how to have a staged fight, including falling and rolling stunts, broadsword training and acting. Barbeau said a studio similar to Ringstar is the Ann Arbor Aviary, which does circus classes.
Student Damien Black has practiced aerial silks since he found Ringstar through a coupon on Living Social. He said he fell in love with aerial silks, practicing eight hours a day for the first month.
“I like how graceful the movements are, the amount of flexibility and strength that’s required to do silks,” Black said. “Being suspended in the air and plummeting 20 feet to the ground is a very big adrenaline rush, and it’s a really great workout.”
Presently, Black practices aerial silks twice a week for three to four hours. He said he wants to have a house with high ceilings to accommodate the silks.
Barbeau said she has high hopes for the studio.
“I would love to see us move into a bigger space where we can have multiple activities running at the same time instead of only being able to have one class,” Barbeau said.
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