Up in the Air 

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Several years ago, before Val Russell opened Push Pilates, she was working in California as an artist and had somehow finagled an invite to the Grammys. At an after-party, Russell felt uncomfortable among the rock stars but was drawn to the party's entertainment: the circus-arts act Lucent Dossier. She remembers watching the troupe perform an aerial routine and thinking, These are my people.

It's the combination of the athletic and the artistic that hooked Russell, and she's hoping to have others hooked as well during this weekend's aerial workshops at Theatre Memphis. Participants will be trained in both the lyra (hoop) and tissu (fabric) disciplines.

Russell notes that the workshops are for all comers — from the serious athlete to the novice. "It's all fun, and it's all fun-hard," Russell says. "But it's not beyond anyone's grasp."

Russell describes aerial arts as "dancing in the air," and she often performs at events around town. You can see her perform at Thursday's Forain After Dark Bastille Day Celebration at the Dixon Gallery and Gardens.

All the core muscles are used during the workouts, which Russell describes as a "major butt-kicker."

"One of the frequent questions I get is, 'How long is it going to take?' I answer, 'How much time are you going to put into it?'" Russell says. "In three months, there's a change in strength and in confidence. You won't get that from pilates or yoga."

Aerial Workshops, at Theatre Memphis, Saturday-Sunday, July 16th-17th, ninety-minute sessions at 9:30 a.m., 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m., and 3:30 p.m. $45. To register, call 278-9022.

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