Trapeze Glossary

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TRAPEZE GLOSSARY (7) [1999-01-11/A]



- The (+) before a term indicates that a definition is already available (the "+" is reserved for future use).
- The (#) in the title and message "Subject" denotes the last version (issue) of the glossary.

- I've added some terms, don't be afraid of my English. :) - Please feel free to add a description for *any* term, alternate spellings are welcome too. - Please check if your most recent contribution has been  included. If not, it may have been inadvertently omitted.

- This is only a *tentative* list for our list internal use, it's nothing supposed to be "academically" accurate. - Main entries will be modified to "most common" entry later, currently all references point to the 1st occurrence in the list (e.g. Sumersault refers to Salto, later the main entry will be Sumersault instead of Salto as Salto seems to be rarely used).


*** A ***

Act (Aerial Act)

Aerial Act (-> Act)


Trick is decribed on the left side, it can also be done on the right rope. From sitting, you stretch up and hold the left rope with the left hand. You reach behind you with your right hand and hold bar at base of left rope, thumb towards front. Keeping right arm straight, you lift your weight off the bar and hook your neck around left rope (rope goes to left of head) you can then take left arm off rope. You can either keep yor body straight, or stag your legs. To get out, you take rope again with left hand and lift right leg sharply to get your bum back on the bar, or you can turn around the rope and lift left leg up to hook it over the bar, then twist and pull right leg over.

Angel (Superman)

Angel Return

Ankle Drop

Ankle Hang

+Apron [Bavette; tablier]:

Small net placed at each end of a flying trapeze rig.


*** B ***

Back Balance


End of the swing back to the board.

+Back-End Trick:

Trick with no first position; the position is not performed

until the height of the swing back to the board.

Back Flip

Backwards Roll


See: Trapeze bar.



+Belt (Safety Belt; Spotting Belt) [Ceinture]:

Safety belt that they flyer wears around waist when learning

new or practicing more dangerous tricks. Safetly lines are

attached to loops on both sides of the flyer's belt (some

belts used e.g. by swinging trapeze performers during shows

have only one ring and a single safety line is used).

(See also: Twisting Belt)

Bird's Nest [Nid d'aigle; nid d'oiseau]

+Board (Platform) [Plate-forme]:

Wooden take-off platform at one end of a flying trapeze

rig. Some rig configurations have two platforms (one at

each end).

+Board Biscuit (Board Bisket; Board Bunny):

Person who works on the board.

+Board Bisket (-> Board Biscuit)

+Board Bunny (-> Board Biscuit)


+Bullet Drop:

A straight drop down to the net, flat on the back, often with

arms crossed over the chest (does anyone have any alternate

arm positions for the bullet drop?).

Bum Balance

*** C ***

+Cables [Câbles]:

Steel cables used for flying trapeze bar fixation.

Candlestick [Chandelle <?>/Chandelier <?>]

+Carabiner [Mousqueton]:

Oval-shaped (or drop-shaped) aluminium, steel or titanium ring

with a spring-loaded snap link.

The snap link can be equipped with a screw or bayonet lock

(called "Locking Carabiner").

See also: Locking Carabiner.


+Catch Trap:

The bar that the catcher catches from.

+Catcher [Porteur]:

Person who catches the flyer; is hanging from a catch

trapeze (catch trap) or a flying frame.

Catcher's Lock:

Position of the catcher when ready to catch the flyer.

<Add details concerning leg position>

+CdS or CDS:

Current abbreviation of "Cirque du Soleil" (sometimes used on

our mailing list), corporate internal abbreviation is usually

CDS rather than CdS.

+Chalk (Magnesia) [Magnésie]:

Basic magnesium carbonate (not chalk), available as powder or

very friable block.

+Chalk Bag [Sac à magnésie]:

Small bag used to store the chalk. Can usually be shut with

a small cord. Indeed it's a rock-climbing accessory.


+Circus Tape (Tape):

Auto-adhesive tape used to wrap trapeze bars (amongst other

things). Usually a sort of textile tape. Sometimes gauze is

used instead of tape.


U-shaped rope attached at either end by swivels.


Current abbreviation of "Club Med" (sometimes used on our mailing



From sitting twist sideways, hold one rope behind head with

both hands. Bring legs up and place both feet on opposite rope,

toes facing out. Push out in both directions so body is

straight, rope to one side of head. You can the take both hands

off and stretch them back over head.

+Crane Bar [Barre d'écartement]:

Bar used to suspend trapezes (often fitted with ball bearings).

Crucifix (Iron Cross <?>)


The flyer turns around at the first force out, and then hooks

their toes on the bar in a pike. Coming back towards the

catcher, the flyer breaks, then lets go at the catcher's call

and does one full laid out rotation to the catcher who is

holding a cutaway bar.

<I might have a couple details wrong, anyone help?>

+Cutaway Bar:

Bar that the catcher holds for the flyer to catch in

certain tricks (e.g.: cutaway, reverse knee-hang).

+Cutaway Half (Cuthalf; Flexis; Flifus; Fluxus):

- Cutaway with a half twist.

- Reverse pike under the bar and then rolling legs up

over the bar to do a half twist.

- Like a reverse whip (kinda). The flyer jumps off the

board and does a "turn-around" at the first force-out.

As they're coming back to the platform (facing it)

they go into a whip position. They stay that way as

the swing back to the catcher. At the top of the

catch swing, the catcher yells "hep" and the flyer

"punches" their feet into the air (like a handstand)

while at the same time turning 1/2 twist to the

catchers hands. Its a pretty cool trick.

+Cuthalf (-> Cutaway Half)

*** D ***


Double Cut Away

Double Trapeze [Trapèze double]

+Double Swan:

A doubles move which enables the flyer to go from under

to above the catcher. The flyer takes base's hands, goes to

pike and beats legs up and around base's waist, locking feet

behind. The flyer can then beat up to bar or ropes.


*** E ***


*** F ***

Face Off


First Position

Fixed Trapeze (Static Trapeze) [Trapèze fixe]

Flag [Drapeau]


+Flexis (-> Cutaway Half)

+Flifus (-> Cutaway Half)

+Fluxus (-> Cutaway Half)

Fly, To

Flyaway (Layout)

Flyer [Voltigeur]

Flying Frame [Cadre aérien; cadre de voltige]

Flying Trapeze [Trapèze volant]

+Flying Trapeze Bar [Barre de trapèze volant]

Plain steel (or stainless steel) bar of approx. 7/8"

(22.25 mm) diameter.

Force Out

Forward Over

+Forward Roll:

2 tricks:

A. From standing place elbows in front of ropes and hold

ropes about waist height, thumbs to front. Then roll body

forward; you should end up sitting on bar.

B. Also there's a forward roll around the bar: From sitting you

place elbows in front of ropes and hold bar, thumbs to rear.

Slide bar down legs to hocks, and tucking really tight roll

forwards. You need to twist your hands forwards just after you


Front Balance

*** G ***


Sitting with back against right rope, keep left leg straight,

bend right leg up and take it to front of right rope, taking

upper body to back. Body then hangs underneath.


Protectors worn on the flyer's hands to help prevent blisters

and rips. Some materials include: leather, gauze, tape, etc.

+Guy Line [Hauban]:

Steel cable used to stabilize e.g. rig parts like poles,

platforms, flying frames,...

*** H ***

Half Angel

Half Twist




Headstand performed on the Washington trapeze not

possible (?!) with any other trapeze).

Heel Hang


Flying trapeze trick: At the end of the first swing, the flyer

brings their knees up between their arms and puts their heels

on the bar, making sure that their hips are up and they are in

a compact position. Then the flyer looks behind them for the

catcher. The catcher calls the hep, and the flyer "explodes"

out to the catch.

+Hep! [Hep!]:

Universal signal used instead of go, now, start...

E.g.: "Ready... Hep!"

Hip Circle


Like a knee hang, only the flyer brings their legs AROUND the

cables to hook them on the bar, instead of bringing them up

to their chest to hook them over.

Hop! <Hep???>

+Hook [Crochet]:

Short bar (not pole) with a hook, is attached to the platform

by a small cord and used to catch the flying trapeze bar.

*** I ***

+Inverted Crucifix:

From sitting, place hands ear height on front of ropes. Lift

and invert body so that bar is behind neck, and slide feet up

the inside of the ropes until body is straight.

+Inverted Hang:

From standing, hold ropes fairly low, as low as possible, while

keeping body straight. In one movement crouch slightly and kick

bar forwards and above head (can also be done backwards).

Iron Cross (-> Crucifix <?>)

+Isle of Man:

Variation on one armed hang. From under bar, beat up and hook

one leg over opposite arm, bending at knee. Reach over head

with other arm, and bend or straighten other leg, whichever you


*** J ***

Jump Off

*** K ***

Knee Balance

+Knee Hang [Cochon pendu]:

Usually the first move taught to a beginner flyer, as it is not

a release move. At the end of the first swing, the flyer brings

their knees up between their arms and hooks them on the bar.

At the start of the next swing, they let go with their hands,

arch their back, and look and reach behind them to the catcher.

When the catch is made, the flyer lets go with their knees.

*** L ***

+Ladder [Echelle]:

Ladder used to access the platform.

(See also: Rope Ladder)

Layout (-> Flyaway)



One-piece tight-fitting sleeved or sleeveless garnment that

covers (usually) only the torso. Called after Jules Léotard who

is considered as the "inventor" of the trapeze.

+Lines (Longe; Lunge; Safety Lines) [Lignes d'assurage; longes]:

Small cords used to secure the performer (e.g. flyer).

Usually a symetrical longe system with two lines is used for

flyers. Catchers are not in lines.

Professional swinging trapeze performers use an asymetrical

longe system with a single line (top pulley is in the middle

of the crane bar).


Spanish word for "ready", used to signify to the catcher that

the flyer is ready to go.

<"Lista" if the catcher is a woman????>

+Locking Carabiner [Mousqueton à verrouillage]:

Carabiner with special spring-gate locking mechanism

(threaded sleeve or bayonet 1/4-turn lock sleeve).

Longe (-> Lines)

Lunge (-> Lines)

*** M ***

+Magnesia [Magnésie] (-> Chalk)


Another one armed hang. From under bar either from straddle

(easier) or beating up, keep legs together and get hips up and

over elbow of one arm, pointing feet diagonally towards floor.

Take other arm off bar and point towards feet.

+Mechanic [Harnais; baudrier]:

Safety harness, mainly used by riggers.


Like a half angel but with two feet on the ropes instead of one.

Mill Wheels


From standing, face sideways, put one foot behind sideways on

bar against rope. Other foot wraps around other rope like rope

climb wrap, ending with toes on bar. Place hands and chest on

this rope, and dropping to the same side as leg wrap turn

around the rope 2 or 3 times so it wraps around your leg. You

should be able to lean into the rope and take hands off.

*** N ***

Neck Hang

Neck Spin

+Net (Safety Net) [Filet]

Net used mainly for flying trapeze.

Net Burn

+Net Clear:

The catcher, when coming down from the catch trap, asks if the

net is clear for him to come down (clear = no one under the


+Noodle [Gaffe; perche]:

Lightweight pole with a small hook used to retrieve free

hanging swinging trapeze bars too far away to get them with

the hook.

*** O ***

One Armed Hang

+One Leg Skinner:

From one leg hocks, reach hands behind bar and take ropes-bar

should be inside elbows. Tuck tight and pull body round to sit.


Doubles move. Base stands, flyer sits facing. Base slides feet

down flyers legs keeping hands on ropes pressing weight on whole

of flyers legs up to hips (made easier if flyer flexes feet)

Flyer can then take hands off and bend bacwards; looks nice if

flyer has good backbend.

*** P ***

+Penny Drop (Seat Roll):

At the end of the swing out, the flyer hooks their knees on

the bar. "Cables" is called, and they grab the cables with

their hands, and sit on the bar. At the end of the next swing

out, they push off the cables and arch their back, and roll

around the bar to the catcher.

Penny Roll




Trapeze Act.


Hanging from bar or base with hips up and legs straight and


Pirouette [Pirouette]

Planche [Planche] (French word: Plank, board)


Plaunge (-> Planche)

Plange (-> Planche)

+Platform [Plate-forme] (-> Board)

+Pole [Montant; pilier]:

Vertical steel or aluminium tube, part of rigs.


From pike to sit without beat, using movement of putting legs

on bar as momentum to get hands to ropes.

Pull Over Shoot

<Waiting for an accurate description... :) >

*** Q ***

+Quick-Link [Maillon-Rapide (Trademark from F. Peguet et Cie)]:

Oblong shaped steel-ring with an internally threaded sleeve

with hexagonal profile that screws open to allow a cable

to be put in and then screws shut to close it.

Is used mainly for semi-permanent assemblies.

*** R ***


Cloudswing move. From front balance to one knee at front of



+Reverse Knee Hang:

The flyer turns around at the first forceout, and kicks

forward, backward, forward, and hooks one knee on the bar.

The other leg is out straight. The flyer looks behind, and

at the catcher's call, puts their hands out. The catcher

places the cutaway bar in the flyer's hands, and the flyer

lets go with their knee at about the same time.


Kissing the catcher after being caught.

+Rig (Rigging) [Rig; installation de trapèze]

+Rig, To:

To set up a rig.


Person who sets up rigs.

+Rigging (-> Rig)


A step that can be placed on the board that gives the flyer

a higher take-off point.

There are the 1st, 2nd, 3rd,... raiser.

+Rope Ladder [Etrier; échelle à câbles; échelle à cordes]:

Ladder made of rope or cable and aluminum or wooden rungs.

Mainly used to hook up catch traps, sometimes also to

access the platform.

+Rosin (Colophony) [Résine (colophane)]:

Sticky stuff to stop you slipping, <mainly used for single

trapeze, some use it only for public performances, not


*** S ***

+Safety Belt (-> Belt)

+Safety Lines (-> Lines)

+Safety Net (-> Net)

Salto [Salto] (Somersault; Summersault):

[Mainly used in French and German.]



+Scoobydoo [Scoubidou]:

Front balance backwards rolls.

Seat Roll (-> Penny Drop)




Shooting Star

+Single Knee Hang:

Knee hang with a single knee.

+Single Toe Hang:

Toe hang with a single foot (not a single toe!).

Single Trapeze

+Skinning The Cat:

From hanging beating up and going straight through so hanging

with arms pulled up behind you. Can then let go with one hand

and turn back to usual hang.

+Sleeping Beauty:

Doubles move: Base sits on bar, flyer begins hanging by hands

from right side of the bar, both facing out to audience. Flyer

hooks right knee on base's left flexed foot, then places neck

on base's right flexed foot. Flyer straightens both legs, and

pushes hips up to make sure their body is straight, and both

style. This is a nice trick because it gives the image that

the flyer is lying across base's feet.

Somersault (-> Salto)



Person at the safety lines.

Spotting Belt (-> Belt)

Spread [Ecart]


Static Trapeze (-> Fixed Trapeze)


X-shaped position formed from standing. Lift up and push ropes

out with feet above velvets, holding ropes as high as possible

with hands.


Hanging under bar, hips up, legs wide, hands close together,

crotch close to hands.

Straddle Kick

Straight Jump


Superman (-> Angel)


+Suicide [Saut de l'ange]:

Falling face toward the net (just turning before landing

back toward the net).

Summersault (-> Salto)


Swing [Ballant]

Swing, To

Swinging Trapeze [Trapèze ballant]

+Swinging Trapeze Bar [Barre de trapèze ballant]:

A special trapeze bar used for swinging trapeze acts, there are

usually small cylindrical or spherical weights at each end of

the bar.

*** T ***

Take-Off [Départ]

Tape (-> Circus Tape)


Sort of grooved ring inserted in a loop to protect ropes and

steel cables.


Cloudswing move. Lower legs wrapped front to back, at front of

swing you let go of ropes and reach forward, so you end up

doing a big dive, suspended by your ankles.

+Tirefor; Tirefort

[Tirefort; Treuil à câble traversant]:

Cable hoist which can with used with unlimited cable length

(cable passes through the device).

Toe Hang

+Trap (Trapeze Bar) [Barre de trapèze]:

Plain steel or stainless steel bar; its form depends on the use

(flying trapeze bar, catch trapeze bar, swinging trapeze

bar, Washington trapeze bar,...).

Trapeze [Trapèze]

Trapeze Bar (-> Trap)

+Trapezist [Trapéziste]:

Trapeze performer.


Triple Passing Leap

+Turnbuckle [Tendeur]:

Device used to adjust tension in cables. Has two screws

with rings, hooks or forks and a central threaded sleeve.


Knees into chest and feet into bum.


+Twisting Belt:

Safety belt made specifically for practising somersaults and

cutaways etc... It has a metal "track" which allows the lines

to move around the flyer's body as he twists, without becoming


Twisting Ankle Catch

+Two Leg Skinner:

From hocks, reach hands behind bar and take ropes; bar should be

inside elbows. Tuck tight and pull body round to sit.

*** U ***

+Up And Over:

Hanging to front balance, off backwards andbeat back to front



Uprise Shoot

*** V ***

*** W ***

Washington Trapeze [Trapèze Washington]

+Washington Trapeze Bar [Barre de trapèze Washington]:

A special trapeze bar with a small padded sort of dish at the

middle of the bar (used e.g. for headstands).




Front balance forward rolls.


*** X ***

*** Y ***

*** Z ***


Tricks,            Eqpt/riging,              Misc

Term Discipline
(flying,single,double,wasington trapeze Spanish web, etc
Description Video clip
Angel Return      
Bird's Nest      
Double Cut Away      
Forward Over      
Flifus   A cut-away with a 1/2 twist.  
Hip Circle      
Iron Cross      
Knee Hang      
Over the bar/Uprise      
Penny Drop (Seat Roll)      
Pullover Shoot      
Reverse Knee Hang      
Salto (Somersault; Summersault)      
Seat Roll (Penny Drop)      
Shooting Star      
Sleeping Beauty      
Somersault (Salto; Summersault)      
Straight jump      
Somersault (Salto; Summersault)      
Toe hang      
Tripple Passing Leap      
Uprise/Over the bar      


Tricks   swing technique terms
Term Description Video clip/photo
arch/force out/cast    
Back-End Tricks    
Front end trick    


Term Description  
Crane Bar    
Catch Bar    
Fly Bar    
Double trapeze bar    
Single trapeze bar    
Riser Board    
Chalk Bag    
Stick For cut-away trick  
Quick link    


Term Description
Aerial Act  
Board Bisket (Board Bisquit; Board Bunny) The person who works the board
Catcher's lock