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A Brief History of Aerial Silks

Updated: Oct 26, 2023

Aerialist for white party spins elegantly
Aerialist for white party spins

By “A Brief History,” we really do mean brief. In terms of the circus, aerial silks are relatively new. In the 1970’s, a Canadian by the name of André Simard became a nationally ranked gymnast. While competing for the Canadian team, he was attending school for fine arts and teaching clowning in Montreal. Soon after retiring from gymnastics, Simard began working with a little nothing circus that called themselves Cirque du Soleil. In 1987, three years after Cirque du Soleil first began with only 73 employees, Simard was tasked with creating something new to draw in the crowds. With his background as a gymnast and clown, Simard seized the opportunity to create the spectacle we know as aerial silks. Contortionists and aerial hoop are nothing new to the circus. However, by combining the two and adding shimmering, flowing fabric, Simard effectively changed the face of the circus.

Since its conception, aerial silks has been part of the circus and there have been developments to the art form. If you don’t know what I mean, look at the history of the circus (which we will tackle another day). The point of the circus is to defy what was believed humanly possible and shock people with innovation and creativity. Aerial silks was born to a family that demanded change, growth, movement. At no point were the silks allowed to become stagnant.

With that being said, we here at Firestorm strive to uphold that tradition of innovation. We look for performers that push themselves and their art form the same way we encourage our students to hang in there longer than they did the day before.


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