Aaron Nelson has been a dedicated student and performer with The Aerial Studio for four years. As a 13-year old he began his training with strength building and tumbling. After a year of focused practice he started learning beginning skills on the apparatuses. Soon after, he was training with the teen troupe.
Now 17 and graduating from the troupe in addition to high school, we caught up with him to ask him what the past four years have been like for him growing up with such a strong circus influence, and his dreams for the future.
TAS: Tell us about your history with The Aerial Studio.
AN: My family first met the Curtis's through All American Ballet, where my sisters did ballet with Zoë. The ballet studio began to incorporate aerial into their upcoming Nutcracker. After my sister Aubrielle was chosen to be one of the two hammock artists for the show, we began spending more time visiting the gym where Carmen and Gregg were coaching. Briefly following, I started taking basic tumbling and strength training classes with Gregg once a week. That was certainly one of the highlights of my week! After nearly a year of training, I began learning basic rope and trapeze tricks. I was eager to learn.
I continued working with Gregg throughout my foundational training. One thing led to another and before long, using the technique I gained with Gregg, I was able to do all the skills that any of the other aerial students could.
Although, in the beginning I hadn't intended on becoming an aerialist (and I'm not sure that Gregg and Carmen expected it either), it became one of my strongest passions.
TAS: Did you have any fears or any other feelings that held you back as you began practicing aerial? How did you work through them?
AN: Honestly, I'm not afraid of heights, I'm not afraid to fail, and I'm not afraid to die, because of the life I know I have beyond death.
When I began aerial, I wasn't trying to become the best; I did it for pure enjoyment. I believe this is one of the reasons why my passion for the art didn't die down over time, but continued to grow. After I completed my first performance as a "jungle boy" when I was 14, I truly began to fall in love with the art of flying.
TAS: How have you developed/progressed?
AN: Haha, Immensely! In the beginning, it was hard for me to even climb the rope once. Like anything else one wants to master, it takes time, effort, and dedication. For me, the hip key was the high point of my frustration with aerial. Mentally, I understood the "how to," but for the longest time I couldn't translate what I saw in front of me, into my body. Once I mastered it, everything else made sense.
TAS: How long after you began practicing did you perform in your first show? What was that like for you?
AN: About a year and a half after I started aerial, I debuted in the Extraordinary Experience (The Aerial Studio's first big show in Ventura with top level staging and performers). It was thrilling!
TAS: What are some memories/highlights of your time with us at the studio over the past 5 years?
TAS: What do you hope to do with your aerial work in the future?
AN: I dream to someday have my own production company, focused especially for aerial, but I would like to incorporate all of the arts.
TAS: Anything else you'd like to share?
AN: I'd like to thank Gregg and Carmen for their continual support and dedication to making me the best I can be; Travis Newman for going beyond just being a coach, but also being a mentor; Autumn Phillips for her sincerity and genuine love, always wanting to see me succeed; and most of all Jesus for His unconditional love that He continues to show me!
TAS: How do you think that learning the aerial arts has affected your life?
AN: I believe aerial is not only physically a healthy activity, but also mentally. It’s an amazing way to express yourself and become more aware of who you are.
Not only has aerial provided me with a safe (which is ironic, because most of the time I’m dangling twenty feet in the air), non-competitive sport/art throughout my junior high and high school years, but it has also opened doors for my future.
I honestly think that I’ll reap many more of the benefits from the hours I’ve spent training at The Aerial Studio in the years to come.