Why do we call it an aerial ‘vocabulary’? Ultimately, even though it is physical pursuit, Aerial is a language. And any language consists of an alphabet, made up of letters which sound and look a certain way. Without these basics we could never form words, sentences, phrases….in other words become literate....
Becoming articulate as an aerialist is much the same. Think back to what it was like to learn a new word as a child. You first had to learn the letters - how to sound them out and spell them. Now apply the same process to learning a new aerial skill. Ask yourself these questions:
Which letters are involved? i.e What are the essential building blocks of the skill?
How are the they spelt and what do they sound like? i.e How do I physically create those shapes and what is the quality or type of movement required?
What order do the letters go in? i.e How do I sequence these building blocks?
Once you know the letters that form the word, and you can pronounce them and spell them, you have a new word at your disposal! And from here you can decide how you want to use it. For example, does it go into a sentence (combo) with other words (skills)? Do you want to say it differently, i.e. change the way it sounds? Perhaps you want to say it slowly, or quickly, extend certain parts of it or even try saying it with a different accent (style).
You can see why the analogy works! Aerial vocabulary is no different. But why do we stop there?? Simply having heard of a word or being able to read it doesn't mean that you know it! Does being able to say it but not being able to spell it mean that you know it? Or does knowing how to say it, spell it, read it AND form a meaningful sentence with it infer that it is now part of your vocabulary…?
My opinion is that true knowledge infers both information AND application.
But a lot of us only go that far - we acquire word after word without learning how to form meaningful sentences (or paragraphs if you take the analogy to its fullest!) and so we end up with a lot to say but no real power to express it. My hope as a passionate lifelong learner, teacher and performer is that we will start to embrace aerial knowledge as a body of text and not just a list of tricks. I try everyday to install this in my students and embody this in my performances; we need to value expression and articulation as much as we value acquiring more and more skills if we want to become a more articulate aerial community!