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Trapeze troupe seeks winter home after hitting the heights of popularity

Once it was seen as a pursuit for only the toughest of daredevils. Now flying trapeze has taken off in Lambeth.

By the end of its first summer season in Ruskin Park, a new trapeze group was doing so well, it had to lay on six extra classes.

TLCC Trapeze School was established to help beginners as well as experienced aerialists. Local people came in droves and now the school is looking for an indoor location to allow enthusiasts to practice over the winter. It is appealing to Lambeth Council and local organisations to help it find somewhere for a healthy and increasingly hip hobby.

The school organisers say that while Glasgow and Bristol have full- size flying trapeze rigs covered from the elements available to the public, there isn’t one in London and the South-East.

Tuikku Alaviitala, TLCC director says it could be “anywhere indoor that has space”: a 20 metre high ceiling is required.

“We would definitely take a trapeze inside a big top” says Lisa Torkington, who helped set up the school. “Winter is a little longer without trapeze in our lives!”

Lambeth Life attended an evening class and saw an impressive display of gymnastic poses, tricks and landings in the net (although this reporter’s first attempt was more thrilling than graceful).

The school has grown a reputation. Professional trapeze artist Jess Niven, who trained in Melbourne and has performed in China, South-East Asia, Turkey and France assisted over the summer. “Whatever your body in circus, there’s a place for everyone”, she said.

Mark, an osteopath with a performing arts background, said that aerialism doesn’t require a certain body type or peak fitness levels: “If you’ve been doing it for a while you naturally develop your strength. It’s an incredibly good work-out. Cardio pushes you and it works just about every single muscle.”

Participants this summer included a local man who was trying trapeze for the first time at 80 years old, as well as members of local community groups.

Sharon, who executed a series of perfect-looking tricks and flips, first tried trapeze on a Club Med holiday three-and-a-half years ago. “You come to forget other things you’re worried about” she said.

Deborah, an assistant instructor, described the experience of being up in the air as “really exciting. There’s a sense of achievement that you can push your body to learn and do new things.”

Describing the camaraderie that comes from taking part in an adrenaline- filled hobby, she added: “Sometimes at TLCC we can set up, run classes all day and it’s been all women, and I find that pretty empowering”.

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