Sunday, 21 December 2014

YouTube Circus Video of the Month

Welcome to my monthly Hey Look At This! feature.

Having spent an embarrassing amount of time wistfully watching circus videos on YouTube, I feel I'm well placed to bring you its finest offerings. To, er, save you the trouble - a public service if you will.

There's a lot of boring crap dribbling around on YouTube in the way of amateur trapeze videos (not that there's anything wrong with that - hopefully one day one of them will be mine! however they are quite dull to watch if you're not the subject's close relative), but there's also some blimmin' amazing stuff that will have you Googling your nearest beginners classes within seconds, mark my words. Unless you're DEAD INSIDE. The video below is my all-time favourite, which may mean I've peaked too soon with this, but I don't care.

This lady is Angelica Bongiovonni. According to her website, she's a pro circus performer who started learning static trapeze when she was five, has a dance background, has won a variety of awards and has toured with some major outfits like Cirque Eloize (all of which is very depressing to my hopes of ever achieving anything slightly like this, but that's beside the point).

Since I'm pretty ignorant about the finer points of aerial technique, the reasons I love this are simple: as well as doing all sorts of amazing tricks, Ms Bongiovonni manages to make the most beautiful, graceful shapes with her body throughout every single moment of the act, the whole thing is totally absorbing and exciting, and the music is a brilliant choice.  I also like the way there's lots of spinning, as my personal preference is for a bit more movement than the classic static trapeze (whilst not being flying trapeze either).

It seems she's moved on to Cyr wheel now, which to me is baffling when you can whip out a trapeze performance like this, but ... yeah... she's pretty good at Cyr wheel too. Bah humbug.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Everything But The Circus - Part Two

Ehem, bit more of a gap between Parts 1 and 2 than I intended (it's been my birthday, can I use that as an excuse? Busy at work? Okay I've just been rubbish)! Where was I? Oh yeah, Bristol, 2012, with my trembling little foot set on a trapeze for the first time.  

It was a circus taster day at Circomedia, in their lovely re-purposed church on Portland Square. I signed up for it pretending to myself that there was the slightest chance I would be taken by acrobatics or juggling, that my head might be turned by the tightrope.  Stupid.  Literally the moment I made it up to a sitting position on the bar of the trapeze I knew that this was for me. My life had just been gently but fundamentally tweaked, the needle hopped a fraction to the left on the record.

Circomedia's church - pic borrowed from
Over the next few weeks I came back and worked at all the basic, wonderful, exhilarating, painful beginners moves. And I WASN'T terrible at it! Despite being crap at basically every sport I've ever tried, having no coordination, and the fact that my natural upper-body strength to lower-body fat ratio is not particularly suited to hanging around with my puny arms above my head.

I wore all my bruises and rope-burns and tired muscles with pride. I loved feeling the aches and pains, they were like a happy secret I carried around in my body through humdrum work days, a reminder that there was more to my life than sitting at a desk emailing. I spent hours trying and failing to do pull-ups at home. I watched just about every static trapeze video on YouTube. I did stretches every night. I listened to all the music on my ipod trying to figure out what tracks I might one day do a routine to. I repeatedly showed people my imperceptibly larger biceps (they were very polite about it). I did circus-focussed freewriting exercises. I dreamed and dreamed about trapeze.

So, you may be wondering where I'm going with all this. Am I a skilled amateur aerialist now? Performing in cabarets? Running a circus school?

No. Sadly I am doing none of those things. Because, I am ashamed to say, I did not stick at it. All that obsessive stuff I just listed above lasted about two months total, and then I let life came between me and trapeze.

Me, pretending to be some kind of farmhand, but mostly just letting life come between me and trapeze
For a million different reasons  - every one of them idiotic - that burning aerial love got squashed up, pushed back, packed down and put away.  I was too far away from the regular class venue at Circomedia; I was too broke; I was too tired and demoralised by my crappy job; I left Bristol on a wacked-out hippy mission to become an organic farmer, to travel around and live without money, to do a PhD (I didn't get funding), to be a housesitter, a waitress, to run away to Taiwan, and finally, to move to London and sort my god damn life out. Bla bla bla, all you need to know is, there's been EVERYTHING BUT THE CIRCUS.

But no more! Somewhere in the middle of all the craziness of the last 18 months, I was lent a sweet whacked-out hippy book on how to figure out your heart's desire, and I was feeling just about lost enough to follow all the steps.  Guess what my heart's desire was?


So now I'm actually settled in one place, with just about enough financial stability, the classes are booked people, the CLASSES ARE BOOKED! After being on the waiting list for months, I finally have a date with the National Centre for Circus Arts, me...some other people, I'm assuming a teacher and some aerial equipment. 7th Jan 2015, 12 week course. Hallelujah!!

Will it stick this time? It bloody better. (I'll keep you posted).