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Head Over Heels

This is part of a weekly series, published fresh on Thursday mornings.

The flip-flopping Brain Drain joins the roller coaster carousel at Elitch Gardens this summer. The seven-story, 360-degree roller coaster is not to be confused with the Mind Eraser, the single-loop of the Sidewinder, or the single-track of the Half Pipe, but it does borrow the best from each of those rides. Elitch is open through October. —Derek Kessinger

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Head Over Heels

How my life turned into a three-ring circus.

I’m dangling upside down in the air, wrapped in 14 yards of flimsy, red material, when it strikes me: Maybe this isn’t such a hot idea. I’m attempting one of my first big moves at Aerial Dance Over Denver, a training studio that teaches the art of circus acrobatics to anyone (over seven) interested in sending the adrenaline soaring.

“Just lean back into the fabric,” my instructor had directed just moments earlier. “Put your weight into it, bring your legs up, and…let go.” Yeah sure, that’ll work, I thought. But it did—and now I’m airborne in an upside-down split, the silky “aerial fabric” the only thing keeping me from a head-on collision with the mat-covered floor.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll test my circus prowess on various apparatuses, like the trapeze and hanging hoop. The fabric is, by far, the most compelling. It feels like you’re flying, while getting a great workout. Even the simplest move—weaving my wrists in the cloth and freeing my ankles to float in the air—makes me feel like a true circus entertainer.

Professional performers manipulate this stuff like monkeys, several stories up in the air; I’m just a few feet off the ground—but looking pretty good. The imaginary crunch of breaking bones has even stopped playing in my head. I may not be able to do the complicated tricks yet, but as my instructor says, it just has to appear like I know what I’m doing. “The audience just thinks it looks great,” she says. “They don’t know.” Cirque du Soleil, here I come.

Expert Advice Don’t be intimidated—just have fun and know your limitations.

Skills A little flexibility and upper-body strength don’t hurt.

Gear Leggings, sweats, or yoga pants and a tee (not too loose); no slippery materials, zippers, or buckles, which can catch or tear the fabric.

Cost $100/session, plus $25 registration fee.

Getting There Take I-25 south to Exit 201/Hampden Avenue. Turn left and continue for almost two miles until 8964 E. Hampden Ave. (on the right).

Also Try Aerial Yoga class: Bust out a warrior pose on aerial fabric, trapeze, or hoop, and work muscles you never knew you had. Visit the Web site for a class schedule.

Info 303-771-0161,

This article was originally published in 5280 March 2010.
Daliah Singer
Daliah Singer
Daliah Singer is an award-winning writer and editor based in Denver. You can find more of her work at