There seems to be a renewed interest in the circus arts. It isn’t uncommon to see aerialists as the hired entertainment at weddings. The singer Pink dazzled at the 2014 Grammy Awards with an act that had her hanging from a trapeze above the audience, while singing a love ballad. Touting its fitness benefits, many places offer aerial arts classes – hanging upside down might be the new yoga.

But while twirling around colorful strands of silk looks fun, are these tricks even possible for an adult with no chance at getting into Cirque du Soleil? Gaining aerial skills are hard, and they require a lot of upper body strength and dealing with dry, calloused hands, but Lorelei Ashe of Gravity Defying Fitness seems to think it isn’t too far out of reach.

Operating in the back of Temple Gym (4521 Magazine St.), Ashe, a tiny but strong retired aerialist, leads individuals and small groups in training on the trapeze, aerial silks (those colorful fabrics you often see in aerial performances) and aerial hoop, or lyra. Her business’ motto is “Defy your age. Defy your fears. Defy your expectations.” When I arrive to the gym for my sample session Ashe, who is 48, is wrapping up a session with a woman in her 40s, so it’s apparent that one’s physical prime can be at any age.

I quickly learn that my relative youth doesn’t give me much advantage in navigating the aerial arts. I remove my shoes to reveal my embarrassingly mismatched socks – which will be on full display when I pathetically dangle from the trapeze later – and Ashe leads me in some warm-up exercises to stretch and get my blood flowing. My first task is to attempt the trapeze bar. I put chalk on my hands like Olympic gymnasts do and grab on. Pulling myself up is difficult, much less kicking up my legs to swing back and forth on the bar, and I can see where Ashe gets the cracked palms. But the whole time, Ashe is encouraging and patient. I have similar struggles climbing the silks, which are soft and beautiful but deceptively difficult to climb. I don’t look like Pink at all.

But when I hold onto the lyra – a Hula Hoop-looking ring hanging from the ceiling – lift my legs into a straddle position and spin myself around, I feel graceful and weightless. Sure, I’m not doing anything very complicated, nor am I that high off the ground, but I see what draws people to aerial arts: the feeling of being in the air is addictive. I want to try it again.

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Trying at Flying

New Creative Direction for Cristy Cali

Cristy Cali, from local retailers and online at
Cristy Cali, a jewelry designer from Metairie is expanding her collection to Texas. Until now, Cali’s creations have been inspired by the local art, culture and history of New Orleans. Now she’s designing a new collection inspired by the iconography of Texas cities such as San Antonio, Houston and Dallas. Cali says, “My goal is to create jewelry for other cities, which reflects the essence of the place, just as I have done in New Orleans.”

– Mirella Cameran

Trying at Flying

Liuzza’s Restaurant Stages Second Palooza

Liuzza’s Restaurant & Bar, 3636 Bienville St., 482-9120,
The Mid-City restaurant Liuzza’s Restaurant & Bar, along with St. Margaret’s at Mercy skilled nursing facility, is staging the second Liuzza Palooza (“Two Dat”) mini-festival on Sun., April 6.

The event will raise money for St. Margaret’s at Mercy, which includes the world’s second ALS dedicated household (The Team Gleason House at St. Margaret’s). The money raised will also support continued physical, occupational and psychological therapies for Michael Bordelon, co-owner of Liuzza’s, who suffered traumatic brain injuries as the result of a drunk driver.

The event will bring together food, music and fun in Mid-City in St. Margaret’s parking lot, located across the street from Liuzza’s on Bienville Street and North Telemachus Street.

– Mirella Cameran