TRINA PADDEN didn’t start aerial silks until she was 59 years old. Now she performs and teaches. Photo by Leslie Hsu Oh
If you Want To, You Can Fly
December 14, 2023
Spinning 15 feet above the Palisades Tahoe Village, Trina Padden wraps her aerial sling into double foot locks, then gracefully lowers herself with straight legs outward into a split. The audience erupts into whistles and applause. She bends her left knee while tossing a 95-inch wide silk around her waist, briefly letting it flutter like a cape behind her back.
Beneath Padden, there is no mat, no padding. She flows easily from a martini (when the aerial silk is tossed around one’s back and under an arm while one leg is extended straight out in one of the poles of silk and the other leg is free) into an arabesque by flipping upside down so she can get her right leg locked higher up on the silks. When the spinning slows, she touches her toes with her left hand, bends down and does a standing split, then transitions back to a martini. When her back is turned toward the audience, she untangles some of the silk and suddenly drops at least 10 feet into a single knee hook. The audience gasps. When Padden’s strawberry blond pigtails brush against the concrete, I realize I can’t remember the last time I let go with such abandon.