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Staff by Day, Aerial Artist by Night

News Story

Office of Student Success employee Jennifer Ko assists students from 9-5, but after hours, she’s free as a bird.

“I started off with the flying trapeze,” says Jennifer Ko, associate director for the Office of Student Success, “and took up silks about a year later, and now my main apparatuses are rope and pole.”

For Ko, who started out flying high at the Trapeze School of New York and now mainly trains at Aerial Arts NYC, transitioning to performance with aerial silks and ropes was a natural evolution. These aerial performances, which are essentially feats of acrobatics while suspended aloft on specially designed lengths of silk and rope high above ground, take a true measure of grace, agility, and true grit.

So, how high above ground are we talking? Try just over 20 feet.

“I’ve fallen. Definitely,” she laughs. “I was practicing a rope piece and I was doing an unwrapped drop—meaning when you let go, you are not wrapped in a way ‘locks’ you into the rope and prevents you from falling to the ground —you need to grab the rope after letting go so that you catch yourself and don’t fall and get hurt. I didn’t catch myself.”

Growing up, Ko wasn’t involved in sports and she doesn’t come from a fitness or dance background, but she says that since starting her aerial work just over four years ago, she’s gotten into the best shape of her life.

“A lot of this stuff didn’t come naturally to me,” says Ko, “It took a while for me to get to where I am in terms of fitness and ability.”

Her determination and perseverance to learn and master these new skills has paid off. Just this year, Ko competed in the region 2014 Atlantic Pole Championship in Washington, DC. She came away a winner and is thinking about competing again next spring. In the meantime though, she wants to explore other apparatuses including static trapeze (that’s a non-flying suspended bar for the rest of us non-aerialists) and the lyra, a suspended metal hoop on which one brave artist performs acrobatic feats.

“I’ve done a couple of student workshops for silk and ropes where you have a very structured 8-10 weeks of practice followed by a student showcase performance at the end,” she says. “I’d really like to have more performance opportunities.”

Think you wanna take a swing at aerial artistry? You’ve got Jennifer Ko’s vote of confidence.

“Anyone who is interested should try it! Give it a try and if you like it, keep at it.”

Do you have a secret after-work identity? A hobby or talent you’d like to share? We’d love to hear about it! Share your story with us by e-mailing