Some people run away to join the circus; Kayla Dyches, however, brings the circus with her wherever she goes. She‚??s a one-woman show that tackles fire-hooping, acts of contortion, and being suspended 30 feet in the air by nothing but two silks, for a start.
Even as she told her story, the tiny, tattooed 29-year-old was constantly in motion, sitting on the floor stretching her legs over her head, rocking a handstand, or hanging from the ceiling, wrapped in silks in a perfect split.
‚??I didn‚??t want to throw all that training away,‚?Ě she said of her 8-year run as a gymnast. ‚??A lot of people become instructors, but I went the circus route.‚?Ě
Dyches began her foray into cirque in 2007, having trained formally at Sky Gym, a school of aerial and cirque arts in Georgia. She went on to teach herself the rest of what she knows, supplementing that with workshops and the continual learning process of being an instructor to others. She currently runs her studio out of a building on Division Street in Kingston.
ALL WRAPPED UP
Dyches‚?? primary skill is aerial dance, where she scales two silks rigged to a ceiling apparatus and twists and turns her way through choreographed routines, dropping, climbing again, and holding poses in mid-air. She typically tops out at 30 feet, but said she can go as high as 80.
Luckily, she doesn‚??t think much about falling.
‚??I‚??ll get down before I get that tired that I might fall,‚?Ě she said. ‚??I try to concentrate on what I‚??m doing at that moment; I don‚??t think about it. Of course it can be dangerous. There are people who‚??ve died. People have fallen. If you land on your neck, you‚??re done.‚?Ě
Should she ever get close to the ground, she‚??s got husband Jeremey, 31, to break her fall.
‚??I‚??ve been kicked, punched, knocked down to the ground a few times by her moves, but that‚??s OK because I don‚??t need this to make money, she does,‚?Ě he said with a laugh while pointing to his face.
Jeremey is Dyches‚?? security, photographer, publicist, set-up and clean-up, and everything in between, making them a duo that gives Dyches the edge among other aerialists, who often have no assistant at all.
The most important part of Dyches‚?? success is her unwavering dedication. For her, aerial work is equal parts upper and lower body strength, as well as an ability to be flexible, and she‚??s constantly focusing on keeping her body in top shape.
Every day she goes through 20 minutes of cardio, an hour of weight lifting, then aerial work, stretching, handstands, contortionism, and always something new in order to keep things fresh.
‚??It‚??s very cutthroat,‚?Ě she said of the business, which is due in part to the small group of aerialists that are out there. ‚??That‚??s one thing about the circus; you can‚??t just do one thing. In order to be a viable asset, you have to be able to do more.‚?Ě
That‚??s no problem for Dyches, who also works on the lyra (an aerial steel hoop), cor de lis (aerial rope), and regular hooping tricks on the ground that include spinning a ring wrought with flames around her body.
Dyches‚?? portfolio has garnered calls from some of the top organizations in the country. She said she keeps her clients A-list and has performed for Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation and the New Orleans Saints, where she did aerial bartending. She has a steady gig at Finale NYC and put on a show for Heidi Klum and guests this past weekend.
‚??We see a lot of incredible things, meet a lot of people,‚?Ě she said of the travels she and Jeremey have. ‚??People don‚??t realize where doing something like this can take you.‚?Ě
For all the events she does, she also enjoys her downtime at home and in her own workspace. Above all, Dyches is a mom, one who‚??s passing her skills on to her 8-year-old daughter, Autumn.
‚??If she were here right now, she‚??d be on the silks showing you all she knows,‚?Ě Jeremey said of his daughter. ‚??She‚??ll do a routine right alongside Kayla.‚?Ě
In October 2011, Dyches published her first book, ‚??The Aerialist‚??s Companion,‚?Ě a guide providing technique and step-by-step instructions for beginners to advanced aerialists. She‚??s currently working on a second publication.
SHARING THE WEALTH (OF KNOWLEDGE)
In addition to her work as a performance artist, Dyches teaches classes in hooping and all facets of aerial work, including aerial yoga. She currently offers beginner and advanced classes at her studio, though she said the latter requires quite a bit of commitment.
‚??A lot of it deals with strength training and nutrition,‚?Ě she said. ‚??You could go through the more advanced lessons, but you probably won‚??t get more than a foot or two off the ground if you‚??re not eating right and if you‚??re not supplementing with weight lifting.‚?Ě
But if an introduction to the art is what you seek, Dyches offers that in the beginner course. Students never go more than two feet above the ground, and there are always crash pads below just in case. Students will also learn an entire choreography throughout the hour session, including one maneuver that will test the strength, and mettle, of a beginner.
‚??Oh, the drops,‚?Ě Dyches said with a laugh. ‚??Everybody asks about the drops. Every beginner gets to do an amateur drop that‚??s completely safe.‚?Ě
The drop is important, Dyches said, because it requires the student to be confident in his or her body motions and the ability to have control. It‚??s also an eye-opener and can make students see whether or not they want to dedicate their time and energy to the art as more than a hobby.
No matter if you‚??re looking into aerial dance as something new to try or a possible long-term gig, there‚??s one thing Dyches can guarantee after a first-time session.
‚??You will be sore,‚?Ě she said. ‚??Don‚??t make any plans for the next day.‚?Ě
Riot Hooping and Aerial Dance
(210 Division St., Kingston). 912.656.4649.
facebook.com/riothooping, twitter.com/RiotHooping, riothooping.tumblr.com.
Classes, for students 16 years of age and older:
Mondays and Tuesdays, beginning January 2013
‚?Ę 7-8 p.m.: Aerial Intro, $20.
‚?Ę 8-9 p.m.: Aerial Silks Four-Class Beginner Series, $25 or $90 paid in full.
‚?Ę $45 an hour for individuals.
Semi-private lessons (for small groups, scheduled in advance, 2-6 people)
‚?Ę $35 an hour per person.