Flying High

Senior Amanda Stoker performs in aerial acrobatics


Courtesy of Amanda Stoker

Stoker glides through the ropes as she performs for a crowd.

What does it feel like to fly through the air? Well, just ask senior Amanda Stoker, since she essentially does that when performing aerial acrobatics on silk ropes.

Stoker has been practicing aerial arts ever since she was 13. Now at age 18 she performs in many different competitions that show off her skills. Stoker has been in some student showcases and competed with more than 100 people in the Aerialympics, that came to St. Louis a few weeks ago.

Stoker first got interested in the ropes when her grandma took her to the studio.

“My grandma took classes at a Pilates and Yoga studio and told me that the silks classes were new. I was part of the first generation of students to take classes from my first teacher, Lilly Steele. Lilly moved away last June, but she was always ready to teach me with a smile on her face and always believed I could push myself to become even better at what I do,” said Stoker.

Senior Hope Allen said Stoker’s performances are unique and very fun to watch.

“It is really interesting. It’s something like you’ve never seen before. Think of it like dancing or ice skating, but a little different,” said Allen.

Even though it might look pretty, people also say it is still a lot of hard work.

“Being an aerialist requires extremely strong upper body and core strength. It requires athletic ability as well as poise and grace. It is a performing art as well as a sport,” said Amanda’s mom, Dawn Stoker.

Physical Education teacher Matt Roach agrees.

“Silk rope activities is truly a full body workout. Depending on the activity, it could use leg, arm, core muscles. In my opinion, someone who participates in silk ropes needs an incredibly strong core. Amanda is always willing to challenge and push herself daily and because of this she was able to see results in her fitness and strength,” said Roach.

Stoker said her favorite part of doing silk ropes is all the strength she has gained.

“I think strong women with muscles are beautiful and I look up to them,” said Stoker.

Stoker’s friends, family and teachers agree that she is extremely dedicated to her sport.

“It is basically her life. She even quit dance to do it. I know it is really important to her,” said Allen.

Roach said she does so well because she is able to stay focused.

“I believe her biggest skill is her mindset. On top of being fit, Amanda has to maintain a positive attitude. Because of all this, a committed mindset has to occur or you will never progress in your ability,” said Roach.

Stoker said the skills she develops in silk ropes also helps with her job where she has to lift heavy equipment. She encourages anyone interested in aerial arts to get involved.

“Anyone can do aerial acrobatics. You start out knowing nothing, like I did, and you grow your strength and determination. I encourage everyone I know to at least try it because it’s a great workout and it’s really fun,” said Stoker.

If something doesn’t work out for a future career, Stoker jokingly said she can always join the circus.

“I want to keep doing silks until I literally can’t anymore,” she said.