Wednesday, 30 September 2015

YouTube Circus Video of the Month - September

Aaaand by the skin of my teeth once again, I hereby present to you another monthly YouTube circusy beaut!

I've been incredibly distracted this month by, among other things, a new job (hurrah!). This has meant some terrible blog neglect but I have in fact started back at the NCCA and am trapeze-ing and conditioning with utmost dedication. I can't say that my love for trapeze has returned to full bloom quite yet, but I am back in the zone, so here is some trapeze goodness for your delectation:

I love the old-time look of this video and the fact it's a bit more fun and fast-moving than many. Despite a slight drop in my enthusiasm (don't get me wrong, I still love it, just not quite as mouth-foaming obsessive as previously), this makes me wanna get on a trapeze and improve my skills STAT! She also incorporates some moves that I am working on right now which increases my respect ten-fold, since I now know that they are basically impossible but she just casually throws them in. 

One day, dammit, ONE DAY!!

Monday, 31 August 2015

Circus Video of the Month - August

Continuing on with the theme of the last post, I here present to you an excellent, entertaining and motivational video of some Ferociously Strong Women!

(Ok, I know strictly speaking this isn't actually 'circus', but there's a fair bit of transferrable skills going on here, no?)

I can't really emphasize enough how much I want to be this strong.

I need to find me a pull-up bar to dangle pathetically off...preferably one that doesn't have lots of scary guys crouched around it, flexing... hmmm. In the meantime I be workin' on ma press-ups uh-huh. (My press-ups are currently shit, I have discovered, after watching some tutorials on how to do them properly)

Please note: my only contact with 'circus skills' over the last 6 weeks has been an occasional conditioning/rope class at Crossfit London. I fear this may be what is leading me into the slightly meatheadish muscle-loving territory evidenced by this being my video of the month. I bloody love that class though - the teacher is great, and because it's Crossfit there's a lot of verbal encouragement that you don't really get at circus places where everyone is way too cool for that kind of thing. I'm not sure how I will cope when I go back to NCCA and no-one is shouting 'NICE, Felicity, YES! One more, come on! THAT's IT! High five!!'

Ah Crossfit, who knew you could make a dyed-in-the-wool, book-reading, crocheting, tree-hugging, hippified nerd like me want to be a muscle head eh?!

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

La Buffness

Like many humans of the Western female persuasion, I have spent a fair bit of my life attempting to be very slim. It's always seemed a fairly obvious goal to have and in theory not unattainable, since (although I eat like a horse and have a weakness for stodge) I mostly enjoy healthy food, walk everywhere, and am genetically inclined away from obesity. I'm no chubber, but the 'ideal' size and weight has always just been slightly down the road a stretch - there's always seemed a lot of room to be skinnier and smaller, even when I've been at my skinniest and smallest. And somehow I've never questioned whether I should want that or not, or what the implications could be.

But...why should women all want to be physically less? So they can look extra weak and in need of protection at all times? So they can take up less of the precious space that men should rightfully occupy, with their own societally imposed ideal of being Bigger and Stronger? Hmmm. My strident feminist side isn't too keen on either of those ideas.

Im not saying that I'm pro-fat. I am still the product of my own society after all; I spent way too many years (age 11 to age 30 to be precise) devouring fashion magazines to be that mentally liberated. And to be frank, I don't think getting fatter would help me be healthier, feel more energetic or improve my aerial skills, all of which are dear to my heart. But I've decided that I am pro-lady muscles. Not quite world champion body-builder lady muscles, since I find that kind of thing a bit creepy on both sexes, but just some high-standard female buffness.

Maybe this is an inevitable result of doing a bit of aerial conditioning and being obsessed with an activity that requires a fair bit of strength, but I have suddenly become very excited about the idea of being SUPER RIPPED.

This is where I'm at right now:

As you can see, I have... can we just say, a little way to go? before I can lay claim to anything approaching buff. But it's definitely the new goal that I am using to barge the 'get smaller' mindset out of the way. 'Get bigger' feels like a much more satisfying aim to me. Why shouldn't I look like I can handle myself in an arm wrestling contest/move my own furniture/rip your head off with my bare hands? Why shouldn't I take up a bit more space as I move through this world of ours? And - bonus!- this goal will allow me to actually enjoy food rather than increasing the background rumble of guilt that has dogged many a meal (cake binge) of mine over the years.

You never know, maybe one day I will reach the dizzying heights of this CRAZY girl, holy crap she's amazing:

Friday, 31 July 2015

Circus Video of the Month - July

Phew, just in time!

This month's video is in celebration of my decision to sign up for Level 2 Static Trapeze at NCCA starting in September - YES I got on the course this time! Pretty sure I was the first one through on the phone lines the second they opened, thats how determined I was not to have a repeat of last time's fiasco.

In the last few months I have dabbled with a lot of different classes and its been tempting to carry on with the pick n mix style fun i'm having, but I realised that if I didnt carry through my original plan to learn static at NCCA I would always wonder if it would have been better. Or if I would have been better because of it.

So here we have an appropriately static trap-focussed video. I mainly like it cause its unbelievably cute. This guy is like some kind of flexible baby deer rolling around the trapeze in cosy pajamas. (I mean he's also really good, but thats a given).

Here's to static trapeze!

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Circus Video of the Month - June

I have recently become intrigued by the discipline of Aerial Straps, which seems to kind of combine the best of all the aerials. It also looks the most like flying and a whole lot of airy fun, I want to try it so bad! They don't really do adult amateur classes in straps though, presumably because you have to be SUPER HARDCORE to even attempt it for the first time, *sigh*. Maybe one day...

So I've been watching a few videos of these insanely strong straps people and thought this one was definitely worth sharing. There are some performance videos on this guy's YouTube channel as well, but I've decided I much prefer the videos of people practising.  I read this E.B. White quote in a book a while back and it's stuck in my head - so true!
'The circus is at its best before it has been put together... Under the bright lights of the finished show, a performer need only reflect the electric candle power that is directed upon him; but in the dark and dirty old training rings and in the make-shift cages, whatever light is generated, whatever excitement, whatever beauty, must come from original sources - from internal fires of professional hunger and delight, from the exuberance and gravity of youth. It is the difference between planetary light and the combustion of stars.'
Anyway, here we are, some nice dreamy viewing for a Sunday afternoon:

Monday, 15 June 2015

All the Hoop-La!

Right then, time for an update on my personal aerial progress. I may have been rubbish at keeping this as an online diary, but I have been going to class, I promise!

Over the last 6 weeks things have settled into a nice routine of 1 x hoop class, 1 x dance class and 1-2 x yoga classes per week.  I feel like by rights this should be making some kind of amazing difference to my physique, but in actual fact my body has seamlessly assimilated the new regime into it's usual inflexible, puny and flabby state of being. There has been basically no change, grrr. I need to do more, moooooore...

Having said that though, some exciting (for me) landmarks have been reached / passed:

1.  I can now successfully do around 5 press ups in a row, OH YEAH. That may sound utterly shit, but I have never been able to do those bastards and now that I can I feel mighty. Bring on the giant upper arms!

2. I can (mostly accurately) follow a very slow, very easy, sequence of dance choreography. I still look ridiculous doing it but at least I'm not bumping into the people around me or weeping with humiliation.

3. In contrast to past times, I can still manage to get up onto the damn hoop by the end of the class when my muscles are tired. This comes in pretty handy.

4. This one week, I successfully managed to do a pike roll!! Click here to see a pike roll.

So apart from these exciting, if tiny, improvements, what are the main differences between what now and the old times at NCCA? 

Well the most glaring difference is the equipment, I suppose, being that I'm learning hoop rather than trapeze et al. That's AERIAL hoop, by the way, NOT HULA hoop as everyone seems to assume. (Pff! is all I have to say to that). If you're still confused, this should help clarify things:

(please note, this is just to show the beauty that's possible on the aerial breed of hoop. This guy is amazing and has probably been practicing daily since birth. What I am able to do looks nothing like this)

Another difference is that the atmosphere at the current place is much less 'herd the large groups of students around the P.E. hall shouting instructions' and much more 'hey 3-4 people whose names I know, let's hang out and do some aerial shit'. Which is a long way to say, it's smaller and friendlier. This is nice and helps counteract the fact that it's a drop-in class with mostly non-regular attendees (as mentioned previously).

And a final difference is that it's mixed level. As also mentioned in past posts, this combined with the drop-in factor means that there is a much less obvious line of progression and I'm not going to lie, it is a little bit frustrating.  I want to see clear results dammit! I want to keep doing the same moves week after week until I get them or kill myself trying! I'm having fun in these classes, I'm getting stronger and I am obviously still learning moves, but we often cover completely different things each week. Quite frankly I generally make a pig's ear of all of them and then forget them completely. Booo.

The other aspect of the mixed-level-ness is that I'm learning with people who are a lot, lot better than me. To give you an idea, the last three classes I've been to have also been attended by this girl (who whilst ridiculously nice and modest, is just so clearly in a entirely different world of skill):

This has it's advantages in that I can see others doing things well and try to copy them, and also be inspired/entertained. But it also has some disadvantages, in that it's kind of demoralising to see everyone else effortlessly gliding through things, while you're falling on your head about 60% of the time, and being caught by the teacher the other 40%. It's mostly meant that, despite the best efforts of the teachers (who have been at least as good, if not better, than the ones at NCCA - I'm not criticising them at all) to include something for everyone, the moves have often been pitched at a much higher level than I'm at, so there has been a lot of failure.  AND WE ALL KNOW HOW I FEEL ABOUT FAILURE.

Given this, I'm thinking of making some kind of radical overhaul to my learning strategy: streamlining, economising, obtaining some way of measuring my progress etc. Watch this space...

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Circus Video of the Month - May

This month's video is something different again - nothing to do with aerial, not really amateur and, being a Broadway thing, more of a commercial style than I would normally enjoy, BUT.  It's been compulsive repeat viewing for me and is kind of amazing, so I figured why not share it?

I think hand-to-hand acrobatics is my all-time favourite thing to watch. Following my enamorment with Stateless, I went to see A Simple Space a few weeks ago and absolutely loved that too (so clever). Sadly I think it's probably also the thing I am most unsuited to doing myself, since the few gymnastics classes I've taken just felt terribly hard and uncomfortable. Have I mentioned my extreme galumphing-ness and lack of flexibility? Humbug. I'm still holding out hope that handstand stuff could be a possibility for me though - next on my list to try!

Anyway, so the video. These guys are Charlotte O'Sullivan and Nicolas Jelmoni, from the cast of Pippin the Musical, a Broadway show that combines musical with circus. Their act is some kind of magical fluid blend of dance and acrobatics that does funny things to my insides (errm, it might be that feeling known as 'jealousy' acidically melting my guts). I feel like I may be overusing this word in my description of circus acts, but well, it's beautiful! Check it out: