The Countdown Has Begun

It is now May 5th.  Our show is May 22nd.  We have our first full run through on May 10th – that’s 5 days away.  FIVE DAYS!  I have only one more day to work on my piece before that.  We then have one more week to finalize costume details, fix any little bugs, and launch ourselves into hell week.  Erm, tech week.

I will attempt drive-by bloggings until then.

In the meantime, I would like to share with you the sneak peak video I made and posted to YouTube over the weekend:

Enjoy!

And if it leaves you wanting more, and you are in the Denver/Boulder area – May 22nd at 7:30pm – ONE NIGHT ONLY.

Click here to buy tickets!

Advertisements

Hanging in There

I am the type of person that needs to have a physical day planner to survive life.  Not only do I need a physical book to log and look at, everything within it is color-coded, so that at a glance, I know exactly what is happening and what the priority is.  Blue is for school, green is for work, yellow is for due-dates, purple is for pay days, and pink is for extracurricular.  My book is mostly blue, followed closely by green.  And pink and purple feel almost non existent, while the yellow is always surprising (my rent is due today? what?)

wpid-img_20150227_135558.jpg

I’m not complaining though, because seeing all that blue means most of my time is spent hanging around – quite literally.  Out of curiosity, I counted how many weeks we have left in the program – this epic 9 month adventure we undertook.  The quickly dwindling number was bittersweet.  Nine months is not a long time at all, yet the days have all blurred into one and I feel like I have been here for ages, so having a blank schedule again sounds rather appealing.  On the other hand, aerial dance gives me so much inspiration and appreciation, I cannot imagine doing anything else.  The completion of this program results in our mama bird coaches pushes us out of the nest and telling us to fly with our own two wings, yet I still feel like a baby aerialist.  I have started putting together my promo material, updating my CV, and tentatively stretching and spreading my baby bird wings in hopes of landing a summer contract.

wpid-img_20150311_132303.jpg

While I am currently in the process of creating work (a chains routine and a static trapeze routine), I feel like I spend a lot of my time actually doing this – hanging off of my equipment comfortably as I socialize and contemplate what I’m doing.  I filmed one of my practices a week or so ago, and laughed myself silly at how I spent more time casually sitting on the bar than doing the conditioning I had come for, as well as how much more comfortable I am hanging out up there than on the ground.

wpid-screenshot_2015-03-08-21-33-03.png

Why I Quit my Job and Moved to Colorado to Become an Aerial Dancer

Here I sit in Boulder, were I have been calling home for the past two weeks.  I unloaded my possessions and launched myself into the most intensive training regime I’ve experienced yet.  I spend around 30 hours each week in the studio, and more in my own home continuing the conditioning, as well as 15 hours each week working at a coffee shop that requires me to be up before dawn, and add to that the marketing I am doing for another performer, and I’ve got a full load.  It’s wearing me down – my muscles almost constantly ache, my mind is persistently active, considering the next task at hand, I cannot eat enough, and I still have a child to take care of.  When I’m not running a mile a minute, I’m a complete zombie.  And somehow, with all of this activity, with the pain and exhaustion, I find myself happy.  I feel strong, I am gaining confidence, I am in love with my new home, and I have faith that the end result will be completely worth it.

The training schedule goes like this:

Monday: 1.5 hours Ballet, 1.5 hours Open Gym

Tuesday: 2 hours workshop (nutrition, and later will be kinesiology), 2 hours technique (currently Sling), and 1.5 hours Fabric 3/4

Wednesday: 2 hours improv (Skinner Releasing), 1.75 hours Fitness, 2 hours Performance Seminar, and 1.25 hours Student Company

Thursday: 1.5 hours Aerial Fitness, 1.5 hours Pilates

Friday: 2 hours Improv and aerial dance history, 1.75 hours Partnering (Contact Improv)

Saturday: Rest

Sunday: 1.5 hours Advanced Static Trapeze

Danielle, our sling instructor, has asked us all to keep journals throughout the next nine months of training.  I have a personal journal, as well as this blog, so I thought adding another one would be too much.  So far, I have written one entry, but it turned out to be a pretty powerful entry.  Danielle asked us to think about why we are here – why aerial dance?  Why do we care this much?  Why are we willing to test our physical, mental, and emotional limits for the sake of dance?  And for each of us, there would be a different motivation.

That evening, I opened a new notebook, and the lined page stared at me for a good long time.  I picked up my pen, wrote the date and prompt at the top, and put the pen down again.  Why am I here?  Why did I quit a stable job in Evanston, Illinois – a job that was less than a mile from my home, with benefits and paid vacation, that allowed me to bring my daughter in when I needed to, that paid reasonably well and in which I got along with a fair number of my coworkers – why did I quit?  Why did I quit, pack up my entire life, throwing out or giving away 90% of my possessions, break my lease, and decide to spend the next two and a half months on the road, searching?  Why did I have a plan for every letter of the alphabet, but really only cared about plan A, which was to audition and get accepted to the Frequent Flyers Aerial Dance Professional Training Program?  Why did I give up familiarity and stability to become what I have always attested I wasn’t – a dancer?

image

I sat there thinking about it, with the quiet pressing in around me, at my glass dining room table, with my notebooks and papers spilling out around me.  And I thought about something I wrote in my application essay.  People listen to music; it’s an auditory experience for everyone.  But for me, I see it.  I see how I could twist with the melody, the rise and fall of equipment with the crescendos, transitions from the ground to the air and back.  The bodies rigid lines and writhing grace.  I hear the music and the music paints visions on my eyelids.

I am here because I need to move, because every time dancing has been taken away from me, I find myself falling into a spiral of anger and depression.  I never considered it dancing – it was moving.  It was an extension of what I needed to be doing.  In Milwaukee, just before I turned 21, I saw an advertisement for swing dancing at a restaurant/bar downtown.  I asked my friend, Liam, if he would be interested in trying it out with me.  He was thrilled.  Together, we leaned on each other through the struggle with time, feet, and dancing with a partner, and we both fell head over heels in love with not only swing dancing, but the community that came with it.  We started dancing as often as possible – a minimum of 2 nights each week, but sometimes as many as 5.  I loved the energy and the release from dancing.  I laughed often and created a circle of friends that was the strongest I’ve ever had.

When we moved to Chicago, I felt really disconnected from the swing dance scene.  I found most of the venues to be pretentious and uncomfortable.  I would occasionally head back to Milwaukee for dancing, but that eventually phased out.  I spiraled downward, into a bad bout of depression.  It was in this time that I discovered aerial arts.  Initially, it was a method for staying fit and meeting people; I never dreamed it would become such an integral part of my identity.

After my breakup, when my depression was at it’s worse and I was getting fed up with myself (not to mention how fed up with me my friends were getting), I needed a change desperately.  I allowed a friend to introduce me to blues dancing.  After my first night out, I was hooked.  This was it!  The music was soulful, deep and resonant in me, and I could move softly or dramatically, pull in elements of swing or allow it to be an entirely different manifestation of movement.  I was only dancing once a month, but it was the perfect anti-depressant.  I brought a couple friends along, and soon I had built another circle of dancers I could connect with, laugh with, and most importantly, share a moment in movement with.  It was then that I started dancing with my eyes closed, when I surrendered completely to the music and the dance.  There were a few leads I craved dancing with, because they would put their hand around my waist and we would be so close I could feel their breath on my skin, and I would close my eyes and trust the communication through our bodies to carry us.  It was the perfect moment when everything else ceased to exist, and more importantly, a moment in which I wasn’t alone, but had someone sharing it with me.

It’s only in the past year, perhaps having something to do with blues dancing, perhaps just a natural progression of my need for movement, that I started to stray from the “circus” path of aerial.  I would spend hours searching YouTube for videos of aerialists, looking for inspiration for my own choreography.  But I was bored with what I was seeing.  It puzzled me.  The aerialists I was watching were technically magnificent, they were graceful and articulate in their movements, but something didn’t pull me in.  And then I would find the video that I would watch over and over and over again, seeing new things each time and coming away with reams of inspiration.  What was so different about them?  i would watch their fingers and their toes, the way the small appendages were given as much intent as the large ones.  The “ta-da” moments were almost imperceptible, to be replaced with a languid fluidity that said to me “My apparatus is my limb and not my tool; it is a part of me.”  That, I thought – that is what I want to do.  I want to dance like that.

Really, it wasn’t until I was choreographing my audition piece for the Frequent Flyers that I understood the potential of what aerial dance could be for me.  Aerial dance being different than circus in ways that are still be defined – in ways that I can help define with my work.  I had recently been dumped by my partner of 5 years – and granted the last 2 of them were really shaky – it was still a shock to me.  I felt like i had nothing left to be in Chicago for – no partner and my job was making me miserable – so I packed my bags and resolved to go “ELSEWHERE,” and the only thing I knew for certain then was that I wanted to be an aerialist, and more importantly, an aerial dancer.  My audition piece was crucial.  So, I channeled all of the heartbreak, the anxiety and fear and depression, into my piece.  I work-shopped the crap out of it, until I was a huddled mass of human puddy on a mat, trying not to cry too hard.  I put my trust in the fabric, and by doing so put it into myself as well.  It was the moment when I needed it – I needed to fly, to move, to dance.  I could close my eyes and breathe, and in turn began to heal.

By the time I completed my audition, the heartbreak was mostly gone and a brand new direction had been found.  I was on a path that made me feel strong.  Not entirely secure, but my existence and happiness is literally tied up into the air.

image

I am here, I am flying and dancing, because I allowed myself to finally surrender to what I needed.  I need to move, I need to stop thinking and stop feeling and find the moment, the tension and resistance and completely give in to it.  My apparatus is my partner, supporting me, loving me, sometimes hurting me, but always teaching me to be stronger, to be supple, and giving me a means for movement.

After what I’ve been through finding this about myself, the next 9 months seem like a walk in the park.

(Now, ask me in two months if it’s still a walk in the park, and the answer may be *slightly* different)

What Does an Aerialist Knit?

Circus is pain.  There really is no way around that.  It hurts.  As an aerialist, when I watch other aerialists perform and I see them do certain tricks, I visibly and uncontrollably cringe, knowing how painful it is.  The first time I saw Cirque du Soleil live, I watched the cord lisse artist do something that I absolutely hate doing, and then she took another step toward masochism, and I received an annoyed look from the audience members in my vicinity as I shuddered and said “No! How can you stand the pain??”  (Not loud enough to disturb the show, just loud enough for anyone within a 3 seat radius could hear my commentary).

So – it hurts.  I am constantly covered in bruises and burns, many of which I don’t remember acquiring – which goes to show how desensitized to physical pain I have become.  This is the norm.  I frequently have people give me weird looks, like I’m either into something more kinky than they can imagine and don’t really want to, or I’m the victim of abuse.  Yes, if you consider my significant other a static trapeze, that alternately tries to concuss me and suspend me in ropes, then both assumptions are accurate.

Some apparatuses are more painful than others.  For instance, cord lisse and I do not have a good relationship.  Every time I climb the thing, I return to the ground covered in bruises, and I’m not about to attempt that climb where the rope gets wedged between the toes.  Nope.  Not my style.  The lyra and trapeze are also painful – you are pushing your body into steel most of the time, with fabric being one of the more comfortable apparatuses, albeit the easiest to burn yourself if you aren’t careful.

But what does this have to do with knitting?

I’m giving you a little background into my motivation for circus inspired knitwear, specifically for something that I cast on Monday night and hope to have completed by noon this coming Sunday (such lofty goals I have).

Monday afternoon, I was at open gym, following a Sunday afternoon static trapeze class.  A classmate and I decided to – how do you say it – accustom ourselves to certain positions on the trapeze.  This type of masochism is best described using a phrase a lyra instructor gave me – burning the pain away.  You put yourself in the most painful positions you know of, and hold them for as long as possible in order to consciously desensitize parts of your body so you can do those maneuvers gracefully in a performance.  Circus is pain, right?

So this classmate and I decided to hold our ankle hangs as long as possible so it stops hurting so much.  We took turns hanging by our ankles in minute long segments, cheering each other on and pushing each other to that minute mark each time.  She had ankle guards on, and I was barefoot.  I made it 1 minute and 40 seconds before I couldn’t handle the burn anymore.  My ankles are still a bit red and raw from the attempt, and wearing shoes the next day was excruciating.  There are these things called trapeze boots that a lot of trapeze and lyra artists wear to protect their ankles and feet, particularly for things that ankle hangs.  I’ve always felt like it’s cheating, but have started to realize that I don’t always have to muscle my way through things.  My technique shouldn’t be solely about strength, but also about efficiency, and I can continue to “burn the pain away,” and I can also work on fluidity of motion.

So, what does an aerialist knit?  Not having a lot of money right now, but more yarn than I really know what to do with at my disposal, I am attempting to knit a pair of trapeze boots (normally made from leather), in hopes of protecting my ankles next Sunday, in which class we learn none other than drops to ankle hang.

 

image

I’ll let you know on Monday if my attempt works – am I hobbling or will I have a new pattern to reveal?

Day 5

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.

image

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.

image

I am constantly in awe that this is now my home, and overjoyed and grateful that this is my journey.

Gratitude

Week 1 of summer camp came to a close today.  I have been on the road now for two weeks, and while I’m settling in to this lifestyle, it’s still a bit lonely.  It’s been so long since I’ve been on my own like this, but I’m learning.  Today, my kids helped.

image

This is why I want to teach kids.  This morning I was greeted with smiles and hugs, the kids were excited to get in the air.  I was feeling rather exhausted after dealing with a week of chaos and tears that came with the job.  At the end of the day, though, we had a little show for our friends and parents, and I was reminded why I love working with kids.  They always amaze me.  They pick up more than I expect, and they are not embarrassed to show their gratitude.  At the end of it, I was surprised by a bag of homemade cookies.

image

Now I get two days to myself.  Next week: Project Runway.

I’ve started the summer camp section of my summer travels.  I must say, it has been nice having one place to be that is solid for awhile.  Last week and not having a definite place to sleep and no daily structure was exhausting.  Interesting and entertaining, but exhausting.  Currently, I am sitting in the house of friends, content that I will be here for another week or so.

On the subject of transience, I feel a bit transformed already.  I’ve shed some of the darkness that has been weighing me down over the past year or so, and I’ve been able to reconnect with people who have been influential in my life – past and present.  Something about treating these days as my last in the Midwest is helping me get passed the negativity I’d been hanging on to.  That isn’t the only reason, and that alone is definitely not what has helped me take those steps, but it is wonderful nonetheless.

Now, summer camp… I have two camp groups a day.  The first is the younger kids – adorably uncoordinated but tiringly needy. I have an hour lunch break and then the older campers have their time with me.

image

Everyone is having a blast.  I’m staying late I’m the studio every day to work on my own routines and enjoying every minute of it.

image

I get to see those excited and smiling faces throughout every day.  And, even though sometimes I deal with tears, this is totally worth it.

Previous Older Entries

http://livesoftheaerialists.com/

Just a Crazy Fiber Fairy

Circus Smirkus official Blog: the Story of 1,000 Stories

Vermont's award-winning, international youth circus!

Pollyanna Rainbow Sunshine and the Needles of Doom

Fiber, craft, life, and random silliness

creativepixie.wordpress.com/

eat up some crafty goodness with a creative momma

My Tangled Yarn Knitting Adventures

Ramblings from an obsessed knitter

Funky Air Bear

Traditional & Modern Knits

The Circus Diaries

A Critical Exploration of The Circus World...

art predator

art predator )'( seek to engage the whole soul

This Is What it is

A topnotch WordPress.com site

she shoots sheep shots

Just a Crazy Fiber Fairy

Half Crunchy Mom

No Extremes, No Judgement

by Annie Claire

Just a Crazy Fiber Fairy

Belle Memorie

Providing advice and inspiration for your authentically you wedding do!

No Parachute Theatre

theatre.aerial.dance

From My Insides Out

My journey to save myself