This morning dawns on the fifth day of the Aerial Dance Festival, the wrap to the first week of classes and a weekend of showcase performances. I am sore, tired, and slathered in tiger balm to ease the tenderness.
It has been an intense, satisfying, and inspiring week all around, and I have written volumes in my personal journal about the explorations and realizations I have had along the way. I kept thinking I would write the synopsis here, but never could find the time.
I am taking four classes: single point low flying trapeze, handstands, invented apparatus, and Cyr wheel. Its the handstands that are doing me in. This is the most pressure I’ve put on my right shoulder since my injury, and yesterday I ended up skipping the class for fear of collapsing into my joint and injuring the tendons again. Hanging from it, however, is not a problem and at times even feels heavenly.
Invented apparatus though – so many strange things to climb on and a surprising reaction to many. When I saw that there was an aerial cube, I thought for sure that would be my primary focus, but I really haven’t spent much time on it. I’ve been strangely drawn to the bungee bag – a sling with a bungee at the top. It creates a curious relationship with the ground and the people on it. I find when I start to climb or really wrap up in it, I just want to be reaching down. And the bouncing! Its rather addictive and entertaining.
The exercises we are working on in that class (and I’m sorry I don’t have any photos!) are then continued as I go to Cyr, where Sam Tribble has been reinventing the wheel and has the equipment set up for us to play on between class.
I play on it several times a day, learning new things each time. Can I lean this way? What happens if I stick my leg out? Can I hang from this bar? I can’t get enough of the exploration. Right now, I just look like a person climbing over an awkward metal ring as it spins, but there are moments, like in the photo above, where I find I can concentrate on lines rather than balance.
I used to say that you learn perCYRverance on the wheel. I know – cheesy. But its true. You suck at it, for a long time. And its this big heavy spinning thing you are trying to wield, which means you are also probably going to hurt yourself. A lot. And the only way to really become proficient is to pick yourself back up and say “So, the wheel does that when I turn that way. Good to know!” It is a living thing. A very stubborn living thing. And we learn to tame it and move with it. Like riding a horse – there’s only so much you can get the horse to do, and if the horse doesn’t want to move, you really can’t make it.
I have enough knowledge now of how the wheel inherently spins that I know when I can manipulate it, and I know that the only way to keep turning is to commit to your movements. What this really translates to is knowing the only way to keep spinning is to really push for that next step, and oftentimes not being able to land it and a most brilliant wipeout ensues. I have fallen more times than anyone else in the class. I am covered head to toe in colorful bruises (only a couple actually hurt) and I end up with instances such as the wheel running over my elbow. And I stand up, brush myself off, shake off the dizziness, and jump on for round 23. I’m in the beginning level, because I guess I have low self confidence. But my classmates have been coming to me with questions and telling me they enjoy having me in their class. Its one thing to watch a pro show you what to do, and its another to watch your peer do it, and even more encouraging to watch them fall and get back up.
One thing that is different this year – and I really think its a change in me and not in the festival – is the camaraderie I’ve been experiencing. Words of encouragement are everywhere. Laughter and after hours gatherings abound. I find I’m more connected with the community than I have ever been. I think partly its that this place is familiar to me, so I’m not so shy (me, shy?), partly I think its that I’ve taken control of my path and feel worthy of sharing a cup of coffee with these amazing and talented people, and partly its the nature of Boulder. I feel completely content and welcomed.
I am constantly in awe that this is now my home, and overjoyed and grateful that this is my journey.