The sky is this dancer’s stage


A flash of scarlet streaks past the audience. Between sweeping lengths of fabric suspended from the ceiling, a glittering figure twirls out. What may seem entirely magical to viewers is Gabriela Sissons’ forte. As an aerial silks champion, the combination of circus performance, dance, and athletics fuels her fire. “I feel so alive when I’m flying up there,” she says. Swathed in cloth, Sissons flies high.

Sissons has always been a dancer. But when she attended her first aerial dance class, the elegant movements led her on a new course. “The older I get, the more I realise that it’s so important to stop putting limitations on yourself,” Sissons says. Climbing up the fabric, she secures herself by artfully positioning the sheets around her. Performing acrobatic feats in the air takes stamina. The only thing holding Sissons up is the material and her own strength. In this discipline, danger is always present. Yet Sissons is addicted to the thrill, swaying from heights of up to nine metres.

Though she only started aerial silks five years ago, Sissons is sailing through competitions across the globe. She won the 2015 PPS Aerial Performance Tournament, was a semi-finalist in SA’s Got Talent in 2017, and judged the 2018 International Asia-Pacific Pole & Aerial Acrobatic Championship. Moved by the momentum of this craft, Sissons reaches out to others at the Skydancer Academy in Cape Town. Through her establishment, she hopes to build a team to represent South Africa internationally. “It’s never too late to pursue your dreams,” Sissons says. “With hard work, dedication, and believing in yourself, the sky is the limit.”