May 19, 2021
A dark backdrop, two bright studio lights and a smoke machine – the training space was transformed on Saturday for a photoshoot with Broken Doll Images.
From a black corset, to a leopard print cat suit and a begemmed body suit, the costumes were amazing and the aerialists looked stunning as Kim Partridge photographed them in action.
We caught up with some of our community members who were taking part.
Rebecca Gordon, 25, from Ystrad Mynach, Caerphilly, is a newly qualified pharmacy technician and completed her training during lockdown. The photoshoot was on her birthday.
“Studying during lockdown was stressful,” she said. “I was really busy and I missed having circus as my time to unwind.”
Rebecca, who has been learning silks for three years, wore a black and white corset and ripped tights for the photoshoot.
“I missed circus a lot during lockdown,” she said. “I didn’t realise how important it was until it was gone.
“There are so many things I love about training. There’s a great atmosphere and everybody is very supportive. You make friends really quickly.”
She added: “It's so fulfilling when you make progress and see yourself getting better. My stamina isn’t the same after lockdown, but when I came back, I was surprised by how much I could still do.”
Rebecca said this was her first photoshoot, adding: “I felt so glam! I’d love to do it again.”
Charlotte Ross started silks in June 2019 after completing the Intro To Aerial course with Up Side Down Circus. She wore a black crop top and leggings on the red silks for the photoshoot.
The 36-year-old from Splott, Cardiff, coordinates environmental activities for volunteer and community groups.
After trying trapeze, hoop and silks she decided to specialise in silks because she found them “the most challenging”.
Charlotte said she learnt gymnastics as a child and her main discipline is partner acrobatics. She added: “I wanted to have a go at aerial.
“I really missed silks over lockdown. It picks you up after a day at work. It does take a bit of confidence coming back, but you surprise yourself with what your body can still do.
“The photoshoot is like an opportunity to celebrate what you’ve been working on.”
Sara Hartel, 32, from Barry, is a freelance theatre maker. Sara identifies as non-binary and uses “they” pronouns.
They were on the purple silks, wearing a chest binder and skinny jeans.
“I was wearing the binder to make me look more masculine,” they said. “But I didn’t want to hide it. I wanted to show it.”
Sara has been training on silks since Up Side Down opened in 2017.
“There was a nine-month pregnancy gap and then the coronavirus gap,” they said. “I love circus because it requires strength.”
Sara studied acting at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David in Carmarthen and has worked as a stage manager, director and is currently teaching movement.
“I’m not sure if I’ll use circus professionally, but it’s a great thing to have on my CV,” they said.
"I love Up Side Down because it's a place where I can bring Ronya. I get to be a grown-up and have my baby with me."
Ria Carter, from Glynneath, Neath Port Talbot, wore a leopard print cat suit on aerial hoop. The 33-year-old is a student records administration officer at Merthyr Tydfil College.
She started training on hoop after completing the Intro To Aerial course in February 2019.
“I’d never done anything like aerial before,” she said. “But I wanted to push myself.
“It's wonderful to meet different people from all walks of life. That's my favourite thing about coming into the space. There's no judgement.”
Explaining the inspiration behind her costume, she said: “I love hoop because the shapes are so pretty and feminine. It’s all about the shapes, so I thought: ‘What would be better than a body suit?’
"I was really nervous at the start, but everyone is so supportive. It's just liberating and something totally new."
Laura Westacott, 32, from Dinas Powys in the Vale of Glamorgan, is a researcher in neuroscience at Cardiff University. She wore a black and yellow striped crop top and red velvet shorts on rope.
Laura started training on aerial hoop and then got into rope. She started teaching rope and silks at NoFit State in 2019.
"I loved seeing rope acts in shows,” she said. “I’ve built up a lot of strength learning rope. I think there’s a lot of freedom of movement. I love dynamic moves.”
Reflecting on what she loves most about circus, she said: “I just love moving and being upside down. It's such a great way to keep fit and express yourself as well.
"Lockdown was really difficult at first. I realised how much I rely on circus for stress relief. It helps me to switch off.
“This is the first time I've done a photoshoot. I was nervous because I'm awkward in front of the camera, but I've been doing this for so long and I don't have any proper photos.”
Natasha Morgan, from Radyr, Cardiff, works in financial services and is also a yoga teacher. She used to train on pole and has been learning hoop for three years.
She has her own hoop at home and managed to keep training during lockdown by sticking to her usual Monday training night. She also started training on gymnastics rings.
Natasha wore black leather on aerial hoop. She said: “My costume is based around the poison apple. It's very much an evil vibe.”
She wore a pink dress at the last photoshoot. Natasha added: “Last time, I had more of a princess vibe. Princess was more me. But this time I wanted the complete opposite of that.”
Kim Partridge, of Broken Doll Images, is a photographer specialising in pole dance, aerial arts and boudoir photography. For more information, visit her website and follow her on Facebook and Instagram.
By Liz Day