Silkworms learn how to fly at summer camp

LIHU‘E — They hang from giant silks, dancing in the air, giggling and laughing. They move up and down graciously, hypnotizing all with moves even their teacher admits she can’t do.

They are Annabelle d’Artois’ silkworms. Or at least it’s what those children are called at the beginning of the three-day Silkworm Summer Camp. But when the children give their families a performance, showing what they have learned over the course of 18 hours in three days of pure fun, the silkworms have already left their cocoon and are ready to take flight.

“The kids are incredible, I can’t do a lot of the things the kids were doing today,” d’Artois said of her students at the end of their presentation Thursday.

A group of 14 children took the workshop last week, learning hula hoops, yoga, contortion, partner acrobatics, poi balls, staff manipulation, aerial hoops and, of course, aerial silks.

On Thursday, children from 5 to 13 years old performed for their families, showing their recently acquired skills while going up and down giant silks with grace, as if they were dancing effortlessly through the air. They also had a lot of fun putting on circus make up on each other’s faces and bodies for the performance.

D’Artois has been doing aerial silks for many years, but she started out as a dancer and gymnast. She said her students have the potential to go to a circus school if they want to.

“This is where it starts,” she said. “I didn’t have that when I was little. I just went to regular school, did regular gymnastics and didn’t really do anything until it was way later. These kids are getting a huge jump start. They could be performing when they are 16, 17 or 18 years old.”

By learning these skills, the children can have more job opportunities when they grow up, incorporating dance with aerial silks, doing fire balls and even performing inside a giant air bubble floating on water.

“That’s why I learned some fire (balls) and that’s why I learned some aerial (silks),” d’Artois said. “Now I can dance on the ground, with fire, in the air and on the water in the bubble.”

Putting all those potential circus skills aside, d’Artois is an inspiration for her students — some of them have been with her for years. And it’s because of her students that d’Artois makes sure to find time in between her busy schedule to include a summer camp.

“It’s something the kids want to do and they’re able to do it, and if I don’t provide it, they won’t do it,” she said.

Most of the children who try aerial silks for the first time get addicted right away, she said. Like gymnastics, aerial dance incorporates artistic elements, which children can play with creatively, according to d’Artois.

As the children evolve their skills in aerial silks, their excitement transfers over to d’Artois.

“I get happy and excited when I see how happy and excited they are,” she said.

Those who missed the summer camp in June may have a shot next month, when d’Artois is conducting another camp July 17-19. But hurry because space is limited.

Visit www.cocoonaerialdance.com for more information on the camp.

• Léo Azambuja, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252) or lazambuja@ thegardenisland.com.

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