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Colette Brown explores sense of self through trapeze, aerial circus

Photo courtesy of Colette Brown
Colette Brown (’23) wraps herself during her aerial silks class. Brown said she has partaken in trapeze and aerial circus since Grade 8 and hopes to continue exploring her passion.

After attending the renowned circus show Cirque du Soleil and watching the hit musical “The Greatest Showman,” Colette Brown (’23) said she quickly realized trapeze and aerial circus was her calling. 

Brown said she began trapeze lessons in Grade 8 while living in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she attended an arts school in which many of her peers pursued trapeze and aerial. Thus, Brown said they gave recommendations for various schools and instructors, which helped kick off the learning process.

Brown said her passion for trapeze grew quickly and she immediately knew she could progress.

“I just thought it was really cool and if I started now I could get really good at it,” she said. “So, I signed up for a class and learned lots of interesting apparatuses.” 

Once Brown moved to London, she said classes with other apparatuses were full and she began to specialize in static trapeze, in which the ropes holding the bar remain still.

“I think it’s a good mix between aerial which is very restrictive and silks which are completely flexible,” she said.

Furthermore, Brown said her favorite aspect of trapeze classes is the welcoming and low-pressure environment. 

“It’s very non-competitive and people are very enthusiastic when others are learning new things,” she said. “Trapeze is almost like a roller coaster, moving up and spinning. It’s pretty thrilling.”

Moreover, Brown said those who have not tried trapeze and aerial may misunderstand the skills required to pursue it.

I think the biggest misconception about aerial is that you have to start out with strong upper body strength to get into it,” she said. “There are plenty of things you can learn even if you are a little weaker, but it will definitely help you get strong upper body strength.”

Above: Brown practices aerial silks at her trapeze school in 2020.

Below: Brown practices aerial hoop in her studio in London.

Brown said the inconsistency with practice proved to be one of the biggest obstacles throughout her trapeze journey.  

“During the summers a lot of trapeze schools take time off, so you can get really rusty, and after a huge break you can lose grip strength,” she said. “Of course, COVID made it really difficult to attend classes as well.”

Trapeze is almost like a roller coaster, moving up and spinning.

— Colette Brown (’23)

Looking toward the future, Brown said she hopes for acceptance to the National Center for Circus Arts, an institute where she can further her trapeze and aerial skills. While she said she is undecided on whether to pursue a professional career, Brown said she would be interested in becoming a member of a performance group. 

“Trapeze has taught me to push myself and trust myself because often I have to catch myself from falling,” she said. “I feel like that can be applied to other parts of my life, too.”

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About the Contributor
Rudi Chamria, Deputy Editor-in-Chief: Online
Rudi Chamria (’24) is the Deputy Editor-in-Chief: Online of The Standard. She joined the newspaper in Grade 9 as a staff writer because she enjoys connecting with people through interviewing and utilizing her platform to highlight underrepresented voices. In addition to her role on The Standard, Chamria leads the Social Justice Council, plays tennis and engages in community service.

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