Wednesday, 16 April 2014

She'd Fly Through the Air with the Greatest of Ease...

...that daring young girl on the flying trapeze!

Do people still dream about running away to join the circus? Did that fade away with our childhoods or is it still fuelled by things like Cirque du Soleil? I hope we still do and it’s not just me.

There must be a few of us because there are a handful of circus skills workshops you can do as an adult, one of which I did with Alex recently as part of my “34 things before 34” list.

The workshop took place above a music shop, in a “business park” in green and leafy Mill Hill at the end of the Northern Line (the long journey time providing me with some much sought after reading time). Unfortunately there was no bareback horse riding or acrobatics but we did get to try our hands at juggling, tight wire and static trapeze for about an hour apiece. In between activities we had the chance to gawk out of the window at muscle men performing power cleans outside in aid of a promo video. You’d have done the same. Don’t lie.
Muscle men. Love the weights you hate.
We started off with some games designed to warm up our muscles, minds and coordination then built up to some three-ball juggling. It’s quite amazing how the right teacher and learning steps makes all the difference. There was much hilarity as balls ended up all over the studio, and shrieks of delight as we started to manage a few rounds.
I never progressed past this point
Next up: the tight wire. It’s amazing how high up you feel when you’re standing only two foot off the floor on a wire cable. Balance is the name of the game here I felt a little too self-conscious to try the tight wire much. After a couple of turns the other 2 people in my trio weren’t that keen and I felt awkward carrying on. Also wobbling away in front of the whole group was daunting so if I got the chance to do it again I’d make the most of it.
Alex on the trapeze
Finally we got to the static trapeze. This was the thing I’d probably been looking forward to the most and it was indeed great fun. Only two moments of embarrassment: firstly a trapeze with a longer drop had to be brought down on account of my height and secondly actually getting up there in the first place was about the most graceless thing I’ve ever done. But once I’d hauled myself onto the bar the few simple balances and moves had me beaming from ear to ear.
Me, making a reasonable attempt at mermaid pose
The best part, for me, was coming away having learnt to juggle. I had a set of juggling balls for years but eventually sold them at a car boot as I never quite got the hang of it, something I’m deeply annoyed about now. I’d always wanted to be able to juggle and although I’m by no means proficient, it was made to seem straight forward and manageable by building up from simple coordination exercises.

As far as I can tell, there aren’t that many opportunities to take things further as an adult, which is a shame, although there are plenty of kid’s classes. If you are looking to do something similar, look at how the classes are run; you are likely to get more out of ones where the groups are split up and rotated through the activities. If I lived closer I'd definitely consider the adults aerial classes; you get to work with silks and hoops as well. In the meantime I'll be found bruising fruit in the kitchen as I hone my juggling skills and leave you with this ditty...

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