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A taste of Cirque du Soleil in South LA

December 14, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Young people in South Los Angeles are soaring to new heights to help spark community awareness about a fitness program.

The aerial arts program at the Foshay Learning Center hopes to expand to other inner-city schools.

"It's pushing us to be the best," said student Darriann James.

Arts teacher John Midby is teaching them to master the silks and the trapeze. He's been studying aerial arts for six years with Focus Fish, a nonprofit organization that teaches circus moves to people of all ages.

Focus Fish provided the equipment, and Midby encouraged his students to try something they might otherwise have never known existed.

"I think everybody's keyed into this idea of being able to fly, to defy gravity...that dream of being able to do something that seems impossible," said Midby.

The students are practicing for their "Winter Flight" show, an opportunity to raise money and help the aerial arts become more of a permanent program.

The students are learning to support each other and to trust in their own abilities.

"At the beginning, it's trust your spotter - whoever is under you to catch you. But then you realize that all your body weight is going to be on them, so they're really not going to be able to catch you. You have to be able to trust yourself," said James.

Each new trick performed with ease is also helping boost their confidence.

"It's an amazing experience, because it challenges you to do a lot of things you never knew you were capable of," said student Kenia Arevalo. "I am so sore, but I know it's going to pay off."

You don't have be a gymnast or a varsity athlete to learn aerial arts, just a willingness to reach new heights.

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