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The flying trapeze used to be an exotic activity best left to professional circus performers. Not anymore. Soaring to new heights of popularity, trapeze has become almost mainstream, and is leading the way.
The term "Trapeze" is originally French word taken from the Latin "trapezium." This comes from the Greek word "trapezion" literally meaning "a small table." The derivation came to describe a quadrilateral which happens to be the shape formed by the crane bar, trapeze bar and the two supporting lines. The term "trapezoid" also describes the same quadrilateral having only two sides parallel.The general definition for a Trapeze is "a gymnastic or acrobatic apparatus consisting of a short horizontal bar suspended by two parallel ropes"
In the summer of 1859, a young Frenchman named Jules Leotard grew bored in his father's gymnasium. He decided to connect a bar to some ventilator cords above the swimming pool and in doing so, created the world's first "flying trapeze"! He became so adept performing tricks into the pool with his new invention, he ended up performing his act in the Cirque Napoleon (now known as the Cirque D'Hiver). In the years of the young Mr. Leotard's performance, the trapeze didn't have the safety net as is typically seen today. He would perform over a series of mattresses on a raised runway to give the audience a better view of his tricks or "passes." Since that day numerous improvements have occurred including adding the net, adding the second trapeze bar for the catcher and changes in the geometry of the rig among other things.
The upright supports of the average flying trapeze rig suspend the cross bars or "crane bars" about 32 feet off the ground. To get a better idea of how high this is ... just think of looking out a window on the fourth floor of a building. The net is about 8 feet off the ground to provide plenty of room to cradle the flyers when they drop. Hanging about 16 feet above the net is the "pedestal" or platform the flyers take off from. It's typically just called the "board" as it's little more than a 1 foot by 5 foot wide support. To gain more height, many flyers will take off from a "riser" or "raise." The raise is just a small square metal bar that is placed at various spots on the ladder supports of the pedestal. This gives the flyers more height, time, and speed for their swing. The actual flying trapeze or "fly bar" is hung from another crane bar about 15 feet from the board. Most fly bars are made from solid cold rolled 1" steel and are about 3 feet long. They are hung on about 12' lines but these frequently vary as much as a foot depending on the performers. Stretched out another 25 feet from fly bar is the smaller bar the catcher hangs from called the "catch trap." This special bar with pads to protect the catcher's legs is hung on 8 foot lines. The net is guyed out at the ends using pulleys or winches. The center of the net has ropes called "spreaders" which stretch the net out to provide a sweet spot to catch most of the tricks. These provide better support to decelerate the landing. There are sections of the net that extend up at the ends called the "aprons." These are to keep you from flying out of the net if you were to miss a catch or slip out of the catcher's hands at the bottom of the swing.
Our look is the result of reader comments, our own experimentation, and feedback from distribution channels. Distinctive covers complement our distinctive approach to technical topics, breathing personality and life into potentially dry subjects. Trapeze Artists are featured on the cover of Multi-Platform Code Management. Acrobats appeared in art as early as 2500 B.C., when several were depicted in a painting on the wall of a tomb in the Nile Valley. The art of tightrope walking is thought to have originated in China, and Marco Polo described fantastic acrobatics displays, including "rope dancing," that he witnessed in the court of Kublai Khan. The Roman emperor Carinus is credited as being the first to sponsor a formal performance by acrobats, in the third century.
The Trapeze entered the modern age in 1859, thanks to two French artists. On June 30, 1859, Emile Gravelet, who called himself Blondin, crossed Niagara Falls on a tightrope for the first time. He repeated this feat numerous times throughout the summer of 1859, drawing huge crowds each time. News of these crossings created such a sensation that high-wire acts came into great demand throughout the world.
That same year another young Frenchman named Jules Leotard, assisted by his father, developed a routine in which he "flew" from one device to another. He is believed to be the first Flying Trapeze Artist. He not only created a sensation that would forever become a staple of circus acts, he also gave his name to the costume acrobats and dancers continue to wear to this day.
Before You Can Learn to Fly, You Must Learn to Fall
“The first thing to remember,” “Falling is not the same as failing.” Falling is part of the performance. And if you don't want to break your neck, you'd better learn how to fall correctly. The correct place to let go of the bar is at the top of the front end of the swing. This is called the "Stall Point" -- the point at which you're the highest in the air and the farthest from the net -- the scariest place.
Get Better, Go Slower
Every change agent must deal with fear -- fear of change itself. Starting a routine with a conventional warm-up trick that never fails to scare the beginers is "The back mount," "Yeah, this really gets there attention." Once a beginning flyer leaves the platform, the only way out is down and into the net. But advanced flyers are trained to return to the platform on the backswing, hence the term "back mount." This is a trick in itself. "The back mount is scary because you have to know where you are in relation to the platform, without being able to see it," "Then, when you think you know where the platform is, you have to commit and let go of the bar. Release at the wrong moment, and you risk missing the platform and falling."
If Your Change Effort Isn't Working, Change It
What Flyers do have in common is a “Sense of Adventure. Also, frequent Flyers tend to be feisty as well as flirty. Students, many of whom are women in their mid-30’s to early 50’s, banter loudly with the instructors, virtually all of whom are gorgeous men in their 20’s to late 30’s. Sexual innuendos fly. Maybe it's the outfits (men and women alike wear tights and little else). Maybe it's the physical contact -- there's lots of hugging and shoulder massaging going on. Maybe it's the heightened emotions; fear coupled with “adrenaline” is a good recipe for drama. Whatever the reason is, the atmosphere is definitely erotically charged.
The climax of a Trapeze trick comes when the Flyer releases the Trapeze bar and floats to the Catcher, a man swinging on another Trapeze bar. After the Flyer and Catcher swing together, the catcher either returns the Flyer to he/her own bar or drops he/her safely to the net, 30 feet below. Synchronized down to split-second timing, Catcher and Flyer dance an intimate pas de deux in the air.
Intimacy is not the only factor that sets Trapeze apart from most other workouts: Flyers claim that while they are flying, they don't feel like they're working out. The “adrenaline” rush erases fatigue, minor aches and pains and feelings of exertion. If achieving the sensation of being in the zone is the goal of every athlete, for Flyers, it's essential. If the timing is off by so much as a fraction of a second, the trick can flop. And learning to stay present while facing fear is something every Flyer experiences. (A lesson that can be transferred to other areas of life.)
The Flying Trapeze used to be an exotic activity best left to Professional Circus Performers. Not anymore. Soaring to new heights of popularity, Trapeze has become almost mainstream, and is leading the way.
Trapeze rigs are popping up all over the country, even in Manhattan. Tom Cruise and Leonardo DiCaprio take classes in Woodland Hills, just outside L.A. Baby boomers and their kids were flocking to San Francisco's Circus Center and Trapeze Arts in Oakland long before trapeze was featured on "Sex and the City." Fitness fiends bored with crunches find Trapeze an exhilarating way to stay in shape. Think yoga and Pilates, where participants learn to attune their bodies with their minds, and then add a healthy dose of "Fear Factor."
For those hit with mid-life crises, Trapeze helps shake things up, sparing them the need to abandon careers, jobs, family, friends or spouses instead.