Don’t let the fear of falling stop you from flying


Jordan Clarke

Jordan Clarke and fellow aerialist performing silks along Perth foreshore.

Brooke Couper, Reporter

Jordan Clarke has been dancing since the age of two. Her mum was a dancer and her dad was a musician so the performing arts have been a huge part of her life.

While recovering from an injury and taking some time off from dancing, a friend urged Clarke to attempt an aerial class in order to take some pressure off her injured hip. The sport still allowed for her creative and performance skills to shine through.

Aerial silks are a type of performance where artists perform aerial acrobatics while hanging in the air from fabric.

In aerial silks, dancers aren’t harnessed in. They are in the air with their body controlling their movements.

Image supplied by Jordan Clarke
Practicing in the studio.

“The nature of the activity, the twists and turns you could do and the apparatus itself make it impossible to be harnessed and it would potentially be dangerous,” Clarke said.

However, having no harness doesn’t put the dancer off acrobatics in the air. In fact there are two aspects to it. Firstly, the athleticism needed for the sport. Strength, endurance and flexibility are required to make hanging from the silks look easy, but Clarke said she also enjoys “the daredevil component … that rush of adrenaline you get when doing high level tricks.”

Secondly, the artistic side of the sport. There is creativity within the choreography that allows you to make different shapes in new, fun and aesthetically beautiful ways. “I love choreographing to make my audience feel an emotion as I dance, as that performance side is really important to me,” she said.

Clarke teaches the acrobatic sport and said just like the sport there are two parts to teaching. The first being the physical ability of the body. “Improving strength and conditioning specific to silks/circus is one part and the second part is teaching fundamental wraps, technique, form/structure.” This allows her to inspire creativity, choreography and add artistic flair leading to well-rounded performers.

Image supplied by Jordan Clarke
Jordan with one of her younger students practicing.

However, with all these points running through your mind, Clarke has reassured me that absolutely everyone can give the sport a try.

“There’s a common misconception that you have to have a prior level of strength to do a class and that’s false! Others are scared that we will make them go to the very top on their first class, but that definitely doesn’t happen either.”

The goal is to work on ability levels and make it fun.

Clarke has been fortunate enough to perform on many occasions in Perth. The most recent was her third year performing at the Fringe Festival. However, she said it can be difficult due to the technical capabilities of a venue. “Ceiling height and rigging points sometimes prevent it. Many venues also don’t allow it, so it’s started to force aerial performers to be a bit more creative with freestanding apparatuses and free-standing rigs.”

However, this hasn’t stopped her from landing private events and night club industry events, like the nocturnal ball. This year Clarke will also be performing at her first gay wedding and said, “many people/event planners don’t realise that we are even an option for entertainment, as the sport is only just starting to take off in Perth.”