Story by Asha Sallapudi
Balancing both academics and flying trapeze is hard enough. Combining the two might sound impossible, but for seventh-grade friends Annika Fretz, Ava Pappas, Ella Pappas, and Alex Serrano, it’s a perfect fit.
Every Saturday or Sunday, the group of girls heads to Tito Gaona’s Trapeze Academy for the Aerial Arts Class, open to experienced and novice aerialists that includes one and a half hours of instruction on aerial silks, followed by one and a half hours of gravity-defying fun on the trapeze.
Serrano was the first of the girls to begin trapeze and silks. “I started by doing it once in the summer and then since I found out that my dance teacher did it, I’ve been going every week since then,” she said. “I once went to the circus and it was my favorite act there, so I’ve always wanted to do it since I saw the circus.” Serrano is now at an intermediate level of silks and trapeze. After hearing about Serrano’s new class, her three friends joined her months later as beginners.
The girls’ trapeze teacher is expert trapeze artist Tito Gaona, and their silks teacher is Renata Gaona, who is also their dance teacher at the dance studio, Attitudes in Dance. “They are loving it, so much. They do the silks, they do the trapeze… they just fell in love with it,” Gaona said.
“I’ve definitely done a lot of things that I thought I could never do [through trapeze], and there’s a lot of strength and flexibility required that I didn’t think I had, and it turns out, I do,” Fretz said. “It made me want to get stronger.”
The aerial arts may seem like a lot of fun and games, but they do help your physical and mental strength. The girls said they aide in strengthening muscles, flexibility, stress management, and concentration.
“It [gave] me something to look forward to every week because I don’t really have any sports that I love besides dance,” Pappas said. “[Trapeze] is really fun, and you get lots of freedom. You’re just up high, just you and the trapeze.”
Photos provided by Renata Gaona