Q&A: Jill Scheidt, president of the Dragonfly Aerial Arts Studio

Jill Scheidt is president of the Dragonfly Aerial Arts Studio, which she co-founded with Angela Howard, Lissa McLeod, Christy Muecke, Jake Weinstein, and Amber Winters. They'll hold a student showcase that also features instructors and the core dance troupe Sept. 10 at 7 p.m. at URBhana, 115 S. Gay St.

With aerial classes, do you have to do a lot of safety training before you get to the fun stuff?

Not really. We usually start the first day a little bit slower than the rest, with a fairly lengthy warm-up. But you actually get to start using the apparatus—like the trapeze or the silks, depending on the class—as part of the warm-up. You can learn much faster on the trapeze than doing the silks, but for either, at the end of six beginner classes, you know a little routine. It's about three minutes of various poses, or you could call them tricks, but that's more of a circus term.

Have you ever been in a circus?

I have been a part of the Triton Troupers Circus, in the Chicago metro area. I did static trapeze and swinging trapeze and I did Spanish Web and chair balancing.

Where did you learn those things?

At Triton. I grew up in Texas, then I lived in Chicago six years before I moved here. I've been in Knoxville five years.

What attracts you to the aerial arts?

It's just something that's fun, kind of freeing. You get up there and you get to try new things. It's a workout, too, you still get to build strength and endurance. It's just—fun.

Who comes to the Dragonfly studio?

We have all different people. Some are UT students who just thought it would be a fun alternative to going to the gym. Other people have kind of seen Cirque Du Soleil and thought, "I want to try that." There are moms looking for alternatives to the gym, and groups of girls come and take class together for a Girls Night Out.

So is it mostly women?

Yes. We've had a couple of men, and we're always looking for more men, but it's mostly women.

Do students have to keep their hair up?

Most people put their hair up, because it's easier to keep it out of the way. We have a couple who perform with their hair down, they think it just looks better. It doesn't really matter, up or down.

The shiny, form-fitting clothes, do they have a purpose?

Most of that is just for show. If you come to a practice, you'll see all kinds of different clothes. The important thing is that they be form-fitting. You don't want loose material—if you're reaching up and grabbing the silks or something, you don't want to accidentally grab your shirt instead. You have to remember, you're upside down about half the time. You don't want a shirt that's falling over your head or your hair in your eyes.