Freshman Eva Tucker doesn’t always get to go to football games and hang out with her friends. Instead of being involved in sports like tennis, which her two younger sisters play, Tucker works with aerial silks and lyra, the name for skills done with an aerial hoop.
“The practices usually run till 9:30 so I have to do homework pretty late or like football games, I can’t go to those, Tucker said. “So I have to give it up. In the long run it’s worth it.”
Both silks and lyra mix acrobatics, dance and gymnastics. Silks are aerial acrobatics that are preformed using a long silk fabric to preform tricks that involved wrapping one’s body in the air. Lyra is an aerial hoop that performers use to preform acrobatics above the ground.
None of her friends do, understand or know what these aerial skills are, they call what Tucker practices “her stuff”. She is more flexible and stronger, enough to beat boys at arm wrestling. The only time Eva’s friends have been exposed to her acrobatic skills was her birthday. She took a group of her friends to her studio and they took a beginner class.
A Groupon her mom had for a beginning aerials skills class was what got Tucker hooked. With a 10 year gymnastics base, aerial acrobatics immediately appealed to Tucker.
She quit gymnastics to focus on silks and lyra. Within two years, Tucker moved from the beginner level one, to what she is now, a level five, the highest level. She has two practices a week for the aerial skills. On top of that, she is also taking dance and conditioning classes to add to her performance. Tucker devotes all of this time to preparing skills so she is able to preform with her studio.
To do this, she has to learn at least 10 separate moves that she can put together seamlessly and make them fit to a four minute song. It takes weeks, even months, to put together a full routine for a show.
“Once I get the moves down, then you figure out transitions, smooth ways to get to each one, to each move, and then you fit it to the music,” Tucker said.
Tucker learns personal routines that only she will use in performances. She has been building a repertoire of skills, like hanging from her toes, for the past few years. Adding more and more complex moves, including her own signature skill: Pantz.
“One day I was wearing these zebra striped hammer pants and went up on the lyra and did this splits move and other girls said, ‘Hey I like your pants, and my instructor named it pants and that’s my signature move,” Tucker said.
This fall she preformed for three nights in the Fringe Festival, an arts festival in Kansas City. Tucker’s former company, Quixotic, was the only show to sell out and the show sold out all three nights.
“Her last big performance was at the Fringe Fest,” Tucker’s mom, Kristen Tucker. “That was hard work, they prepared for six months.”
It’s not always easy for Tucker to want to go to practice or to a performance.
“Sometime she does go through hard times that she doesn’t want to go,” Tucker’s mom said. “I know that once she gets there she likes it. ”
Even when its hard for Tucker, she continues to sacrifice so that she can go farther with her acrobatic skills.
“She could do something where she is preforming for work,” instructor Jennifer Proshaska said.
Tucker wants to continue her work with silks and lyra, improving and adding to her skills. She hopes to eventually become an instructor.
“Sometimes I feel like I shouldn’t give up those [school events] for what I’m doing but I know it will make me better if keep doing it, Tucker said. “I have gotten a lot stronger and more fit from doing this.”