Hi Rodleigh here, talking about hand loop sizes on aerial straps…
The history of the straps discipline can be traced back to China where it was used as a strength development apparatus. Historically, straps were made from a pair of single straight cotton webbing without hand loops on the ends. The performer would circle the webbing around their wrists, then loop the loose ends into their hands and hold them with their fingers. This grip had some limitations. As the discipline became more popular, a hand loop was sewn into the bottom of the webbing for versatility. After a number of accidents in which the performers slipped out of the hand loops, safety keepers were added to the construction of the straps. Today, it is uncommon to see the non-hand loop style of straps being used. The dynamic nature of modern straps means that the use of hand loops and safety keepers is imperative. Traditional straps entered the circus arena in 1972 in Russia, with the memorable act of the Pateleenko Brothers (Valery and Yury) who received the highest circus awards in Russia in 1973. They became the forefathers of modern straps.
As more students trained in traditional straps, imagination and experimentation took place. Both with the skills developed and with the apparatus itself. Larger loops were made for specific applications and this blog is to help students understand what different size loops are best used for. Through many decades of manufacturing and creating circus equipment, Trix Circus equipment designers, myself and Sonia Rakovska, differentiated the loop sizes into the following categories:
- 20cm length hand loops: for wrists only. Some straps artists choose to only do technique using their wrists in the loops and develop their strength and dynamic skills around this size loop.
- 40cm hand loops for wrists, ankles, necks and thighs. Thighs you ask? Yes, straps are not limited to only wrists or ankles, but with large enough loops, the performer can sit in the loops comfortably and perform contortion and other rotating skills to create a different looking act. This is the most versatile size hand loop for beginners. It is also the largest size loop where the performer can still achieve the crucifix roll-up skill without the loops “bunching/bubbling” against each other during the rolls.
- 1m hand loops for full body skills. This size allows the performer to slide inside the loop and experiment with twisting and contortion shapes while being safely surrounded by the straps. Duo aerial skills can also be achieved in this size loop with the base hanging with the loops around their lower back and legs up against the straps.
- Finally we make a continuous looped pair of straps specifically for duo straps or for artists wanting to use the straps as a hammock as well. This size is very versatile. You can still achieve much of the usual solo skill set, but it is also large enough to comfortably fit two people into with space to spare!
Hopefully this blog helps you decide on the best hand-loop size for your application. If not, you can always purchase one of each size in every colour! Your only limitation should be your imagination!