Elevated Art

Bismarck High Schools fall sports, including non-school sanctioned sports like aerial silk, are in full swing.


Ballet, aerial silk, and contortionism are not a part of BHS’s sanctioned sports, but that does not stop sophomore Aliani Delgado-Torres to pursue the three.

This past weekend, Delgado-Torres performed at an aerial silk competition in Minnesota, where she placed third in advanced level six.

Delgado-Torres has been dancing and taking lessons and classes since she was little. As a sophomore, she is two years ahead in her age group in ballet. 

“I’m technically considered a prodigy in a way, but I don’t really like that term,” said Delgado-Torres.

At one of her many strength and conditioning yoga classes, the instructor saw Delgado-Torres’s ability and potential. The instructor mentioned an aerial silk class and that Delgado-Torres’s ballet and contortionist skills would give her a jump start.  

“I didn’t know about it until she asked me,” said Delgado-Torres. “It sounded interesting.”

Delgado-Torres hires a private instructor and coach that comes to one of two places in her home for practice. 

“One area is in my garage and that has tall enough ceilings to do drops, and then an outside dome structure that has the silks on it.” 

The two areas she uses to practice get plenty of use.

“In the mornings I do stretches and I focus on learning new skills,” said Delgado-Torres. “And at night I have ballet from 4:30 – 6 p.m., and from 7 – 8:30 p.m. I have aerial silks.” 

For dancers like Delgado-Torres, school is another time to find the balance between education and performing. This is the first year she is attending public school in Bismarck. Prior, she had gone to the American Ballet Theatre School in New Jersey and the School of American Ballet in New York. At dance-specific schools, the schoolwork molds around your dance schedule. 

“BHS is a lot different, but I love the atmosphere here,” said Delgado-Torres. “All of the teachers have been really helpful and make me feel more comfortable.” 

Competitions for aerial silk include traveling on the weekends. At the performance, when the level Delgado-Torres is in is called out, she and the other dancers at that level go one by one in front of the judges. Dancers are judged on endurance, strength, timing, speed and counting. 

“You have to make sure that the wrap is tight and that you’re holding on,” said Delgado-Torres. “Sometimes you’re holding on just with your hand for 30 to 40 seconds at a time.”

Aerial silk dancing has been known to have negative connotations surrounding it, including the misconception that it is related to sexual dancing.  

“It is nothing like that,” said Delgado-Torres. “It is indeed an actual sport and it’s really good exercise. I recommend it for all athletes.”