Plateau – defined it as “an area of relatively level high ground” or “a state of little or no change following a period of activity or progress”. This second definition is the one that all of the aerialists I know eventually have experienced. When you are used to learning new things, and moves coming easily to you… until they don’t. Each new move you work on is harder than the last, and you no longer seem to be making any sort of progress. It can be infuriating!
I am all too familiar with “the plateau”. I’ve spent my share of time on it, and working my way off of it. I’ve been doing aerial things for over five years now, and it hasn’t always been easy. When I started, I had very little upper body strength. As I progressed through the Aerial Dance program, my strength grew, and moves came to me quickly and with ease… for a time. Eventually, the initial strength I’d built was no longer enough. In order to be successful in harder tricks, I needed to go back to the basics and work on my form – strengthen from the bottom back up. I started doing more conditioning. Making sure that in every move I did I was properly engaged where I should be, not necessarily where it was easiest. I took a break from learning new tricks, and instead focused on perfecting ones I already knew, and making them pretty and strong. When I felt strong and graceful in my “old moves”, I decided it was time to revisit some new tricks. Much to my surprise, I was more successful than when I’d worked on them before! Don’t misunderstand me, they weren’t pretty, or even good yet, but I was more successful than I had been. The moves seemed attainable instead of impossible.
By adjusting my focus, and returning to the basics I have been able to work through my times on the plateau. I still get stuck and have to remind myself of the importance of conditioning all the time. By doing that though, I’ve been able to continue to progress.