Icarian Journal Episode 1 Basics and Bails!

Icarian Journal Episode 1 Basics and Bails!

Basics and Bails, Taking it Slow!


After a couple years of butt-pad wrangling, I finally took the plunge and commissioned a steel cradle from my friend Daniel Barpal at Denver Circus Supply. I thought it would be interesting for the acro community to see the process of learning Icarian in a cradle (trinka, Icarian chair, Risley chair, etc) and I’m excited to share. It’s important to note that I’m not self-teaching in the cradle. I’ve had instruction from professional teachers and performers and hundreds of hours (at least) of practice with L-Base Icarian and consistent foot juggling with props in the cradle that is guiding my training and informing how I adjust my throwing technique from ground to cradle.


Day one impressions:

  • Everything is easier. I gauge the quality of the throw height by how far the flyer’s feet travel up my straight legs. To prep for rotating skills like front tuck, I aim to get the flyer’s feet at least as high as my feet. In L-Basing and butt-pad Icarian, I throw the flyer from Icarian Throne at max power to reach this height. In the cradle I needed just a little more power than it took to straighten my legs to get the same height. I still gave a good amount of throw through my arms, but the improved mechanics that the chair provides called for a bit less throw for this height. More power for less effort and better body mechanics to boot. Nice!


  • The leg lines are different. During the preparatory mounts, dismounts, and pressing skills, I got a sense of my throwing and catching lines, but only after throwing too far over my body, and too far back. After a few sets the right line started to sink in. 


  • The base’s arms are so much farther away! We tossed Throne to Front Plank with a hand catch as a spot/stability moment and found that the hand connection only happens near the bottom of the base’s press. This will be great for ¾ and full front handspring from plank (castaway) later, but super awkward for front plank and bird. We got rid of the hand connection and caught on feet only after a few rounds, which feels (and looks) much nicer. 


  • The throws and catches travel a greater distance, so better acceleration and deceleration mean a softer ride for the flyer. I do my best to catch gently, and I felt much more equipped to cushion the catches with the great distance to press with my legs. My good catches gained an even softer quality that I enjoyed very much. I felt like a nice base most of the time, though I still had a couple of hard catches since the lines feel different. Sorry Courtney! I got better as my legs adapted to the new lines. 


  • We wanted to get the nerves out and build safe bail outs on day 1, so Courtney and I prepped controlled mounts and dismounts from a variety of directions with very little dynamic energy. This helped me gauge the distance to the ground and how to carry her down so her feet landed gently. I’ll include these in a video. It felt nice to take the time to define very specific parameters and it helped me start to relax into the training since I gained a better sense of where the ground is. 


  • We went through the mounts and dismounts slowly without spotters, but again we have hundreds of hours at this and have prepped safe bail-outs in much bigger skills in L-Basing. If you’re new and getting into icarian, definitely take a spotter that understands the movements. Flyers should also have facility with forward and backward rolls as a minimum with a plan to develop as much tumbling ability as possible. 


Day one training set:

  • mounts and dismounts to front and back facing throne shapes
    • bail front, sides, and back
    • Bail backwards from back facing throne to the ground walkover style
    • Bed dismount to feet 
  • Straight throws
    • Icarian Throne
    • Front Bird, no base hands
    • Bed straight throw and sets of 5 tempo straight throws minimal height
  • Basic linear plane throws
    • Icarian Throne to Bird, first with hand connection for stability, then hands free
    • Bird to Icarian Throne, thrown from base’s feet only
  • Spinning skills
    • Presses and Swivels in Straddle Pike throne, front and back facing
    • Bed Around the World sequence: Front Facing Throne > Bed > Back Facing Throne > Bed > Front Facing Throne


Day one was both exhilarating and humbling. It was interesting to feel stress about skills that I’ve done well for many years, and a great journey through a beginner’s mind experience like few things I’ve done lately. Feeling the dismounts helped me gain a sense of where the ground is and reduced my feeling of worry for the flyer’s safety. We had a couple of real bails that felt very safe, thanks in part to a lot of experience with L-Base and partly due to the bail training we had done earlier. 


Thanks for reading along! Feel free to chat and give me comments and feedback. I’ll keep sharing as we develop and build our act! 

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