Hoop-tastic Katie gets in the swing

Reporter Katie Upton gets aerial dance lessons from Carolyn Armstrong
Reporter Katie Upton gets aerial dance lessons from Carolyn Armstrong
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Kacie and Katie - our names are about where the similarities end.

She is an admirably, acrobatic 11-year-old, able to contort her body around a wooden hoop, stretching her leg over her head and even managing a smile to boot.

Reporter Katie Upton gets aerial dance lessons from Carolyn Armstrong.  They are pictured with eleven-year-old Kacie Calvert.

Reporter Katie Upton gets aerial dance lessons from Carolyn Armstrong. They are pictured with eleven-year-old Kacie Calvert.

I am a less flexible and slightly apprehensive 20-something, albeit with the right attire, at least.

I arrive with both ballet slippers and weight gloves in tow, conscious I’ll need to be both agile and strong for a workshop in aerial acrobatics on a hoop.

I should have had some Arnica cream too, to treat the bruises I can already feel coming up from wrapping my limbs around the hoop.

They’ll be worn as badges of honour though as this is no mean feat - simply hoisting yourself into the thing is a lesson in itself.

Kacie twists around the hoop showing me the tricks I’ll be learning, similar to those she performed in an audition for Britain’s Got Talent two years ago.

I am taken through mounts, dismounts, proper placement and balance.

It’s the same format that two dozen hopefuls will be taken through in two classes tomorrow, as part of the Showzam! Festival’s workshops.

“We’ll be trying to give every child the opportunity to say they sat on the hoop and did a shape in it,” explains instructor and qualified aerial hoopist Carolyn Armstrong.

“All we want for them is to have fun, feel safe and achieve something.”

I like to think I ticked all those boxes, especially as I mastered a hands-free ‘man in the moon’.

Ms Armstrong is a stalwart of the Blackpool show scene, having worked as the principal dancer for Blackpool Tower Company for three years from just 12-years-old and moving into aerial acrobats after teaching dance for years.

She nows runs seven aerial hoop classes at Blackpool Pleasure Beach’s Arena studios each week.

There’s a waiting list though - and it might be one person longer now, I might be hooked on the hoop.

For class details, contact: 0871 2229090