LEVELS: From Beginner through Professional for ages 7-9, 10-12, 13-15, 16-18, and Adult.*

Pronunciation:”a-kr&-‘ba-tiks Function: noun plural but singular or plural in construction/Date: 1882 1: the art, performance, or activity of one that performs gymnastic feats requiring skillful control of the body. 2: a spectacular, or startling performance or demonstration involving great agility or complexity. While the sport of gymnastics enjoyed great popularity, an interest in the ancient art of acrobatics enjoyed a resurgence in the modern world. Today child and adult dance classes alike offer acrobatics class options to build on and expand techniques learned in other styles.


History of Acrobatics

While acrobatics employs the same inverted type of skills visible in gymnastics, acrobatic students focused strongly on the use of balance, unusual amounts of flexibility, and the use of controlled counterbalance during acrobatics class. Use of props to enhance or display these skills was common. Unlike most gymnastics, acrobatics often employ the cooperation of more than one performer to create stacking and interlocking skills. Teeter boards, trampolines, barrels, stairs, chairs, platforms, and inclines were some of the more common devices used. Circus and Vaudevillian performers brought the art to the eye of the general public and delighted audiences around the world with their wide variety of acrobatic skills. Slow partner, group “hand to hand,” and “pyramid” style balancing, were contrasted by teeter board and high flight catching and throwing artists. Clowns used many acrobatic skills to create comical lines, interesting falls, unexpected stacking, and to surprise their audiences with unexpected movement. Highwire and trapeze artists took acrobatics high above the audiences, displaying many stacking, rolling, balancing and twisting skills.

The popularity of this unique art form found its way into the nightclub entertainment scene. Limited space in these settings necessitated individual or small groups of acrobats to display acts of great flexibility (contortionism), balance, and control. Often times these acts developed an entire story line performed to complicated and original musical scores. Film and stage dancers were often called upon to display their unique acrobatic talents much to the delight and admiration of their audiences.

The study of acrobatics slowly became part of the curriculum at dance studios around the country for both kids and adult dance lessons. The value of its training was recognized as a way to enhance flexibility and strengthen the dancer’s body. Performance troupes and lines of acrobatic dancers emerged from dance studios around the country.


The Modern Acrobatics Class and Beyond

In the last decade, the fields of acrobatics and gymnastics have begun to merge. The over arched handstand and backbend positions are being replaced by the straight torso locked arm positions of the modern gymnast. Gymnastics’ competitive routines employ many acrobatic based skills to draw the interest of the audience, create levels of movement, display balance, and highlight the suppleness of the body.

Sport acrobatic competitions at all levels continue to prosper and draw great interest. The sport involves demonstrations of tumbling, balance, and building human constructions of towers and pyramids, all of which involves great skill and risk. Sports acrobatics became a world-recognized sport in 1974 and the world championships are now a bi-annual event. The sport is set for accreditation with full Olympic status within the very near future. The level of difficulty constantly rises.

Specialty performance troupes such as Cirque Du Soleil, a French avant-garde acrobatic circus, present many forms of acrobatics to an ever-growing audience creating a new surge of interest by the general public. The popularity of the performing arts competition movement has helped to showcase and to steadily increase the difficulty and variety of skills being performed. The future of acrobatics is bright as programs continue to grow in dance centers around the country.


If you or your child is interested in taking an acrobatics class, contact the Robert Mann Dance Center today for more information!