Acrobalance or Hand to Hand?
There are many different types of partner acro. Acrobalance is often described as the integration between dance forms and partner acrobatics. It normally involves more static poses rather than dynamic. It can be performed with the base lying on the floor or standing up. In Acro Yoga, it almost always involves the base lying down on the floor, this is called L-basing. Acrobalance often includes more standing poses, where the base is lifting the flyer in the air or the flyer is doing a balance on the base. Another popular term for acrobalance is adagio. Both Adagio and Acrobalance tend to involve combinations of fluid movement with smooth and controlled transitions.
Hand to hand is another term that many people recognise as part of the partner acrobatics realm. However, most people tend to think it means just one specific move where the flyer does a handstand on the base’s hands. This move is called hand to hand but in most circus schools around the world, hand to hand is often used as the main term that describes partner acro, the discipline itself.
Hand to hand comes from circus and sports acrobatics in gymnastics. It tends to involve a higher degree or level of technical skill than acrobalance and includes a lot more dynamic and release moves (when the flyer loses all physical contact with the base).
Both Acrobalance and hand to hand can involve a high technical level, which comes with an element of danger, even though acrobalance doesn’t involve many dynamic moves. They both involve working at a height, which increases the risk of injury from falling, so it’s important to use spotters when learning. It’s also integral to learn in a safe environment with professional coaches, well-designed progressions for the moves and safety equipment such as mats.
Most people that do hand to hand, study it full time in a circus school or by doing sports acro in gymnastics and/or spend their lives specialising in that one discipline. Many of the circus coaches that teach it have come from a sports acrobatics background. To find out more about sports acro, you can read more here.