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The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

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Defying Gravity: Daisy Coleman finds freedom in aerial silks

With+her+left+foot+wrapped+in+red+silk%2C+Daisy+Coleman+suspends+herself+in+the+air.+This+form+of+acrobatics%2C+called+aerial+silks%2C+is+Daisy%E2%80%99s+specialty+in+circus+performance.+
Olin Nafziger
With her left foot wrapped in red silk, Daisy Coleman suspends herself in the air. This form of acrobatics, called aerial silks, is Daisy’s specialty in circus performance.

In a dimly lit room, under the glow of purple stage lights, senior Daisy Coleman spins in the air, wrapped up in silks and suspended in the air by what seems like magic. She twirls slowly above the stage, the shimmering red silks, shimmering onstage, wrapped gently around her left leg and right arm.

In a gravity-defying moment, she lets go of the silk. In a quick spin, she expertly reorients herself until she’s upside down. This routine continues, each move eliciting silent awe as she swings in the air with grace and strength.

This art form, called aerial silks, is Daisy’s specialty in circus performance. This form of acrobatics consists of a special form of silk, which is tied to the ceiling as the performer skillfully moves through their routine in a series of swings and drops.

In her circus ensemble, Daisy has found a forum for self- expression that combines her love of theater and acrobatics, creating an art form that is unique and beautiful.

Through dedication, Daisy has become a leader in her circus ensemble, and, in the process, has discovered a calling that she is deeply passionate about pursuing on a professional level.

Daisy discovered her love of silks at 3 three years old. She was at a tumbling class in Evanston, when one day, one of the instructors brought out silks, a new apparatus for the class to try.

As soon as she did, everything changed.

“I was like,  okay, I’m in love. I realized this is going to be my thing from now on, and so since then, I have just kept training,” Daisy said. “Something just clicked. I just felt freer on silks than everything else. Any other apparatus wasn’t the same.”

As she got older, Daisy continued to pursue her love of circus in different gyms throughout Chicago, even during the pandemic.

I just felt freer on silks than anything else. Any other apparatus wasn’t the same.

— Daisy Coleman, senior

Now, Daisy is a part of Aloft Youth Ensemble, an advanced circus performance program, and practices with them three times a week.

Daisy said, “I just never fell out of love for it. I knew it was something I never wanted to stop doing. It’s a combination of a sport and an art. There’s so much physical training, but there’s also so much creation. Circus makes me remember the fact that progress isn’t linear. Even when I think I’m good at something in circus or beyond, there’s always more to learn.”

Daisy’s coach, Kristi Taff, the director of the youth program at Aloft Circus Arts, has watched Daisy grow and excel in circus.

“Have you ever met somebody that just has this incredible light about them? That’s Daisy. She’s an incredibly positive, bubbly, warm and welcoming individual. She’s incredibly dedicated and incredibly passionate about what she does,” Ms. Taff said with a warm smile. “She cares about succeeding and cares about trying hard, so that really lends itself to why she’s seen so much success as a circus performer.”

When Daisy was younger, Ms. Taft saw her perform, and immediately cast her in a professional show, where she mentored Daisy gave her mentorship and showed her what it’s like to train with a professional working cast. Ms. Taff noted Daisy’s exceptional talent on the silks, her favorite apparatus.

“She dances on the silks. She’s not just doing the silk routine,” Ms. Taff said. “It’s like her and the apparatus are one. She has these incredible fluid and beautiful movements, that you don’t typically see until a professional level,” Ms. Taff said.

In addition to her role as a performer, Daisy has become a leader at Aloft, where she now teaches some of the youngest performers in the program. Last year, in her ensemble, she was elected student leader by her peers.

“Looking at circus as a teacher showed me all the things I could do with it,” Daisy said. “.. I now look at it like, wow this is something I want to take seriously and put my all into.”, ” Daisy said.

Ms. Taft is incredibly proud of Daisy’s journey to the professional level.

“I’m seeing this circus kid who we taught through this program,” Ms. Taff said, “and now she’s turning around and she’s teaching the next generation,” Ms. Taff said.

Now, as she looks towards college and the future of her career, Daisy would like to continue to pursue her passion for circus, no matter what it looks like. She will continue to perform onstage, twirling under the stage lights amidst a sea of floating silks.

Daisy said, “I would just love to keep circus in my life.  I’ve grown up with it, and it’s so important to me. It’s just such an important part of who I am.”

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About the Contributors
Mia Lipson
Mia Lipson, News Editor
Mia Lipson is a member of the Class of 2025 and serves as news editor. She began journalism in the 2021-22 school year as a ninth grader and previously served as an assistant editor. Her favorite story she has written is a profile on retiring P.E. teacher Terri Greene. Outside of journalism, she enjoys running, writing and reading any history book she can find. Awards: 2024 Scholastic Press Association of Chicago, staff editorial: superior 2023 Journalism Education Association National Student Media Contests, San Francisco convention: Superior, editorial writing
Olin Nafziger
Olin Nafziger, Photographer
Olin Nafziger is a beginning photojournalist and a member of the Class of 2025. His favorite part of photojournalism is taking pictures of school activities and sports, and his favorite sport to photograph is golf. Outside of class, Olin enjoys biking, watching TV and participating in various school clubs. Awards: 2023 Association of Texas Photography Instructors Fall Contest, sports reaction, third place 2023 Association of Texas Photography Instructors Fall Contest, still life, honorable mention

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