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...