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Fitness Lessons for the Cirque Set

Students learn the aerial acrobatics of Cirque Du Soleil performers at dance studio's class.

Under the intense scrutiny of nine students, Guinevere DiPiazza gracefully lifted herself five feet into the air, seeming to almost rise on two silk straps without effort during a class on Sunday.

She gives her class at Warren's Dakini Aerial Movement a few instructions and quickly swings into an elevated arabesque figure that belies not just to the complexity of the movement but also the strength it takes to make the maneuver.

That becomes obvious the moment the students step up to try. DiPiazza is a regular performer at Webster Hall in New York City, but leads classes in the area about every six weeks, she said.

That gives her students a little time to practice the maneuvers. At Dakini Movement, the aerials class is offered alongside the studio's pole dancing class since both skills are intense upper-body workouts.

"You are sore for a few days," student Yolanda Lopez said. 

To perform the movements, the students must often lift themselves up (like climbing a rope—but sometimes without using their legs). Some of the movements look as if one might get entangled and fall, and be left swinging upside down, but DiPiazza says that won't happen (which the students also said wasn't the case). 

Aimed at fitness, DiPiazza acknowledged she's known some students who have gone on to become professionals, and while her Aerial Acrobat Entertainment offers "cirque-style entertainment" for parties and events using some of her protegés, the class at Warren was interested in the fitness aspects of aerial movement.

She began studying aerial silks movement about nine years ago. She'd been studying dance for most of her life, but then she said, "I saw Cirque Du Soliel."

"And that's all if took," she said. "I started studying it and I love it."

She'll be returning to Warren in about six weeks, and has a class scheduled for Hillsborough's The Circus Place on Jan. 21.

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