About Charlie . About Silks
Charlie trained and worked as an actress for more then 20 years, playing in theatres all over London and the UK and working on Television and film. During a period of ‘resting’ she took up the adrenaline busting flying trapeze at London’s Circus Space, and whilst initially not awfully good, swiftly became addicted to circus skills. Cast in a play involving a swing, she turned it into a trapeze, the and moon became a hoop, but it was having being cast in the physically demanding production of The Ramayana for Birmingham Rep and The Royal National Theatre that Charlie took her Corde lisse skills more seriously and used ropes within the production, and so followed further performances involving silks (much less painful) -the Roly Poly Bird in a touring production of The Twits, the Wicked Queen in Salisbury’ Playhouse’s ‘Sleeping Beauty, Iron Maidens cage girl, including others.
Continuing to train at The Circus Space, despite having a baby, Charlie would take her son, Cosmo, to play with the jugglers and acrobalancers (who would use him as their ball) and he would have his own real human mobile dangling above him as he lay on the mats… ..this was just before the astringent H and S measures we have now! Finding that theatre was a tough thing to do with small children, Charlie began to specialize in Cabaret shows, involving equal theatricality but less family time, and it was then that she took to aerial singing. Working within a trapeze hoop and on the silks, she toured the world with the unusual act of comic singing whilst performing complex routines, with a microphone lodged in the small of her back, which she still does.
“I see aerial skills as much more then a ‘fitness’ fad. It is a highly creative and challenging skill. ‘Fitness’ is the inevitable outcome, and essential to achieve a fluid and effortless performance but aerial should not be started just as a means to ‘burn’. Like yoga, the skill a certain ‘mindfulness’ as the element of danger is very real, and it is a discipline that deserves respect and time. The rewards are immeasurable.”
Astonishingly the use of ‘silks’ or ‘fabric/tissue did not come about until 1995 when Cirque De Solei’s’ Andre’ Simard invented the discipline in a bid to ‘dazzle and surprise the audience’. Whereas ‘Corde-lisse (meaning ‘smooth rope’) had been around for some time, utilizing many of the same skills as the silk, the tissues seem to have inspired and indeed ‘dazzled’ the population.
As silks/rope manipulation involves complex wraps, twists and falls it is impossible to use safety harnesses or nets, thus the art requires enormous strength and stamina and is a thrilling demonstration in human agility and skill.
Silks are, contrary to its name, made of polyester and other synthetic nylons. They vary in stretch and width according to the performer. For beginners and intermediates silks are usually longer and with a medium to low stretch, thus enabling a certain control and accuracy. They are suspended from a height allowing for drops and roll downs but in most cases, when learning, the height is no more then 11m high.