Life of an Aerialist

Flying through the air on silks came naturally to her, and she spent her entire spring break doing just that. Her abilities best fit what one might call a superhero, but on a daily basis, people call her Frankie. Francesca Mokry is an aerialist who dreams of doing tricks midair in the prestigious Cirque du Soleil.

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CORE Concert Contemporary & Aerial Dance Company / Photo courtesy of Francesca Mokry

Fresh from ballet class, she sat with a neatly tied bun and talked about her future with a stillness and confidence that was well beyond her years. After four years of being on the university’s Core team, the Concert Contemporary and Aerial Dance Company that is, Frankie found herself in a place of transition. Setting her eyes on her goal, she is ready to take on whatever the aerial world throws her way.

Growing up, Frankie’s mother, Cheryl Mokry, pushed her to discover her raw talent and natural ability by enrolling Frankie in dance classes at age 3. After taking a two-year break from dancing, Mrs. Mokry put Frankie back in classes, but it remained something Frankie didn’t enjoy.

“Dancing was never not an option,” Mrs. Mokry said. “It was always something mommy made her do.”

Frankie danced pointe for two years in high school. Even though she had never danced pointe before, it came naturally to her. Unlike ballet, aerial is undefined. Frankie gives ballet the credit for helping shape clean lines and angles in her body movements when she is dancing aerial.

Frankie began training 9-10 hours every week for aerial on top of her technique classes. When she isn’t performing on the weekends, Frankie incorporates stretching and light cardio into her routine.

To keep her strong physique and maintain the energy needed to dance in the air for 25 minutes straight, Frankie maintains a strict, but balanced diet. On a typical morning, she has whole wheat toast with sausage and oatmeal. Before training sessions, she snacks on Greek yogurt, cheese or nuts. She always includes protein and vegetables in her main meals.

“I like what I eat. Some people think I’m too skinny, but all I care about is what I can do with my body,” Frankie said.

Intensive training and a strict diet aren’t the only things that Frankie prioritizes for her art-form. More times than not, her dance career comes before her social life. She feels like some of her friendships aren’t as close as they used to be. This past spring break, instead of going to the beach with her friends, Frankie dedicated her week to preparing her audition for Cirque du Soleil.

Cirque du Soleil’s application process includes a one-minute video of Frankie presenting her personality. In the second component, Frankie exhibits her strength and flexibility by doing all three splits and climbing a rope without any help from her legs. A reel of compiled performances serves as the last and major component of the application. For this component, Frankie used her spring break to film a performance on silks that were suspended underneath a bridge in Athens.

-Angelina Lewis

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