My retreat to the Marsh Studio

Wednesday, December 25, 2013; 7:00 am ;
Editor's note: 

This fall, before I launched Aerial Journal, I returned to Susan Murphy's Marsh Studio for my second aerial retreat. Susan and her husband, Don Carson, founded my home studio, Canopy, in Athens, Georgia. 

Ashley looks out over the marsh from the hot tub on the back deck of the main house at the Marsh Studio

The First Night

I made it back to the Marsh Studio. I am always taken aback by Susan's eyes, the way she turns her full attention on you. I makes me feel pretty self-conscious, and partially thrilled to have her fully aware-- fully listening. I don't know anyone else who has this gift. With her presence, she makes me want to be kinder, more open to people, more interested in others and their existence.

It took them a few years, but Susan Murphy and Don Carson finally have their studio by the marsh in Darien, Georgia. It's their second studio; they built the first one more than a decade ago in Athens, Georgia. This is my second retreat, and the second time that Molly Graves has come as a guest instructor. I would like to take private lessons with her on the cord lisse, but I know that three days in a row of even basic aerial will leave me pretty worn out as is. I'll have to visit her in Nashville sometime. 

Susan stands in her studio house that is the Marsh StudioI'm always a little reserved around new people. But imagine my surprise when all the students got in the hot tub right away after dinner. We chatted awhile. Maryam is from New York. Emily, DC. Steve is from D'AIR in Atlanta. Ashley, who joined us later, is from Dallas.

Maryam, Emily and I had the longest conversation. We discussed the macho-ness surrounding flying trapeze, and the kinds of people who find aerial, and where they come from, the gymnasts, the dancers, the theatre and even the pole people.

When Steve came out to join us, I helped him find the Pleiades; the Seven Sisters finally shone through the haze above one of the Palmetto trees next to the deck. The marsh was charcoal and very dark, unlike the last time I was here, when the moon was nearly full. (I have a profile photo of me holding the moon, taken by Sallie Newman.)

This is an even better beginning than my last time. Maybe I am more confident than before, more self-assured, as the only repeat visitor to the studio on the marsh (Laura, who joined us the following day, was also a repeat visitor). I still felt a little unsure when I walked into the living room this evening.

Everyone seems to be behind my idea of launching a magazine for aerialists. I hope that I do not disappoint with the little content I have. It just seems like so little when I think of all that I'd like to do. But I have Rain's interview, and Krystyn's blog, and Bettina's photos. I can do this.

My three days at the Marsh Studio

I documented all three days of my time at the Marsh Studio. The entries are mainly about my own personal experiences, but the photos are almost entirely of the new aerial friends I made while in Darien: Maryam, Steve, Emily, Laura and Ashley. 

  • Day One
    • We take part in my favorite activity, and Susan and Molly perform their most recent pieces from the HerSelf Rising show
  • Day Two
    • I hit a low point as I stumble over Susan's choreography, but recover as we begin to work on our spoken word aerial pieces
  • Day Three
    • A round of swinging on the low trapeze gives me the energy to perform my poem on the dance trapeze

More content from my time at the Marsh Studio

I interviewed both Susan and Molly while in Darien, and documented Molly's use of tire tubes as an exercise tool.