This article appears in the July 2011 issue of Louisville Magazine. To subscribe, please visit loumag.com 
Pole dancing is so 2009. If you saw pop star Pink’s performances at the 2010 Grammys or MTV’s VMAs, you caught a glimpse of the newest celebrity fitness fad: aerial dance. Aerial dancers (mainly women) climb and twist their way up giant sheets, called aerial tissues or silks, suspended from the ceiling. Then they come down in a series of controlled flips and free falls.
Last year, friends Terri Kendall, 43, and Mia Sullivan, 46, introduced Louisville to aerial dance when they founded the troupe Cirque Airotic. (The women perform about once a month at bars around town.) Sullivan, aka Silk Siren, a former ballerina and Va Va Vixens dancer, was inspired after watching a Cirque du Soleil performance. “When I saw the aerial tissue, I just fell in love with it because it was a way to incorporate gymnastics and dance,” she says.
After training at a circus school in New Mexico, Sullivan taught Kendall (Krypta Night), a self-proclaimed jock who was drawn to the athleticism required in aerial dancing.
To keep in shape, Kendall and Sullivan practice on tissues and ropes hung from trees in their Germantown back yards. "It's amazing how many neighbors decide to come outside and watch,” says Kendall. “Especially men.”
Cirque Airotic shows are part ballet, part sexy burlesque. To spice up the routines, the women enlisted contortionist Jeanette Martinez, fire dancer Jorden Dundich, and striptease artist Cindy Snow. Some shows have themes, such as “Seven Deadly Sins,” in which performers choose a sin and plan their routines accordingly. Shows at the Monkey Wrench and the Vernon Club with WFPK DJs Matt Anthony and Woody Chancy were so packed that, Kendall says, they were practically touching the crowd.
The schedule for the rest of the year is still, well, up in the air. Booking venues is a bit complicated because the group must anchor their silks, ropes and trapezes to the ceiling. This summer they’re working on their new project — pairing their aerial dancing, stripteasing, fire-blowing act with the campiness of Ohio Valley Wrestling in a show called Mondo Wresting A-Go-Go.