People stare at the upper part of the circus, their heartbeat accelerated while for a moment, a petite figure seems to have achieved the impossible: she has defeated the inflexible Law of Gravity holding barely to the trapeze bar with her foot's heel or flying through the air while twirling once, twice, three times, hoping to reach the safe arms of her partner.
Although it has become one of the most popular performances, the trapeze act is one of the newest acts. It was developed by gymnast Jules Leotard, who in 1859 astounded his public with acrobatic flips between two bars hung by ropes. His career was brief because he died in 1871 as a consequence of a fall, but he became so famous that even today, tight garments worn by these artists are still called "leotards" and have become the most common working-clothes among acrobats and ballerinas.
The art of trapeze has two main modalities: the "flying trapeze" where an artist performs flips between two trapezes, one of them supporting a partner waiting to hold his flying comrade's hands. The most talented representatives of this art have been Mexican Alfredo Codona and Miguel Vazquez. In the second modality, the artist remains in the same trapeze the entire act hanging from several parts of his body; sometimes the aerialist may use rings, hoops, or a rope instead of a trapeze. Two of the most famous aerialists of all times are Lillian Leitzel and Pinito del Oro.
Although the trapeze act is really spectacular when the artists use safety measures (a net in the case of the flying trapeze and a wire tied to the waist of the flying acrobat), the urge to stand out encourages many trapeze artists to act without this protection, risking their lives every second of their performance.