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New studio in Lawrence combines art, athletics and 19-foot-tall silks

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Try it for yourself on Saturday

Silks are where DeAnna Mylander’s love of dance, gymnastics and rock climbing converge. Aerial athletic practice is also artistic, and it allows her to express herself, she said. 

Mylander, a Lawrence resident for about three years now, is in the process of opening Inspired Aerial Arts, a studio in a brand new building at 1204 E. 24th St. 

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“It’s what I want to share with the world,” she said. “It’s basically my pet project of love to share this and create a community that can create beautiful, athletic art together.”

At the studio, Mylander and Meagan Grace — a quick learning student-turned-instructor — will teach classes that allow students to not only learn and expand on their aerial skills, but also work on active flexibility and strength and conditioning in classes designed for improving aerial arts.

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During her college years at the University of Montana, Mylander said she was working as a coach in a noncompetitive gymnastics school that put together group acrobatic performances. Guest performers would work with the students, including one performer who worked with Cirque du Soleil. 

But Mylander was “mesmerized” by a woman who does silks, and she asked the woman to teach her everything she could before she left town, she said. She continued to soak in as much as she could from the guest performers. 

After following her husband to Michigan for his job, Mylander started a small program instructing aerials there about seven years ago. She has since also practiced and taken workshops in Michigan, Colorado and Kansas City. 

Mylander felt like she was missing this creative expression in her life, but she is now in a position where she can swing making this business happen, she said. 

Mylander is excited to help people in Lawrence learn this nontraditional athletic pursuit. She looks forward to watching students take the skills she teaches and adapting them “in their own really beautiful, unique way.” 

“There are very specific technical skills, and learning those and breaking those down is awesome. But once you feel really comfortable with them, the piece that I really like is just adding your own personality and creating that flow,” she said. “And anytime you set different music to the same set of skills, it completely changes the expression of it.”

She’s also looking forward to quarterly performance events where students will invite the community to the studio to watch them perform on the 19-foot-tall silks.

Those who have no experience but are interested in learning more will have a chance at the studio’s upcoming Try It Night. A session for kids ages 7 to 12 starts at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, June 4, and a session for adults starts at 7 p.m. 

Mylander said she tries to cater events like the ones coming up Saturday to people of all athletic abilities.

“So you should expect that it’s going to be challenging, but people will be surprised that they can do a little bit more than they thought that they would be able to,” she said. “And the more you do it, the easier it gets, of course.” 

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She suggested bringing water and wearing athletic clothing. The website encourages leggings rather than shorts. 

Also, “If you wear a shirt that can be tucked in or is fairly form-fitting, that helps because we will go upside down,” Mylander said. 

On day one?

“Yeah! You will go upside down, if you’re comfortable with it,” she said. 

A full schedule of classes for people of all ages starts Monday, June 6. 

“I find, personally, going once a week is great for learning skills and really remembering them, but when it comes to working physically, it’s really nice to have that second day of conditioning, or just work in keeping the body active and physical throughout the week,” Mylander said. 

Try It Nights are $10 per person. Find more information and sign up on the Inspired Aerial Arts’ website. See Mylander in action on the studio’s Instagram page

August Rudisell / Lawrence Times Inspired Aerial Arts is inside this building at 1204 E. 24th St. in Lawrence. As of Friday, June 3, it did not yet have signage up, but Mylander said there will be balloons to welcome guests at the June 4 events.

— Updated to add photo at 4:28 p.m. Friday, June 3

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Mackenzie Clark (she/her), reporter/founder of The Lawrence Times, can be reached at mclark (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com or 785-422-6363. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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