Tag Archives: lyra

The Versatile Blogger Award

9 May

ImageThe Versatile Blogger

I’ve been nominated by Bonne Vivante Life for the Versatile Blogger Award. Please have a look at her blog it’s really awesome. Thank you very much Bonne Vivante Life I truly appreciate your recognition of my blog and I feel honoured as your writing is beautiful and has moved me.

I strongly recommend that you follow Bonne Vivante Life. In her own words the blog  is about “… About living life married to amazement. To embracing the world in your arms. To not letting fear dictate your fate. To living life out loud. To experiencing, with every pore of our beings, every joy and pain and celebration and tear and confusion and ambivalence and fear and love–fully.’

Regarding my The Circus Girl Blog, I started it because I wanted an outlet to share my passion for circus arts with not just other enthusiasts but people everywhere. When I first started my circus training I was (and continue to be) hungry for knowledge about all things circus and I wish for my blog to be a place that can help to quench this thirst in others.

I like to think that I’ve been nominated for a Versatile Bloger Award because although the focus of my writing is circus I cover a range of different themes under this umbrella. I write book reviews, include training tips, post reviews of performances I’ve seen, take a look back at circus artists from years gone by and feature many other different threads.

So I’m about to nominate other bloggers who I believe are also versatile. So here’s the deal for them:

  1. Display the award logo on your blog
  2. Thank and link back to the blog who nominated you
  3. State 7 things about yourself
  4. Nominate 15 other bloggers for this award
  5. Notify these bloggers of their nomination by linking back to their blog

1. I love all things circus – ok I know that’s pretty obvious!

2. I once had to jump onto a moving train in India. It was just like in the movies. Maybe I should have been a stunt woman…

3. I’m a green tea addict

4. I love aloe vera plants for their healing properties

5. Summer isn’t Summer for me without Pimms, ice and a slice

6. I won a national newspaper competition when I was 9 years old

7. I love dogs but have never owned one

Other Versatile Bloggers:

Bonne Vivante Life

Aerial Hymns

Marcelino Guerrero

Taminas Turn

Applebruise

Toemail

First Night Design

From My Insides Out

Paper Cut Illustrations

Amethyst Rose’s Muses

Carl-Leonard

Free Range Cow

Effra Blog

Wonderful Cinema

Harbin 77

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Learning To Spin On Aerial Equipment Without Losing Your Lunch

31 Mar

ImaginAerial Duo Lyra

ImaginAerial Duo Lyra

I’ve done my fair share of spinny acts, most often with a bucket offstage in case of “too much of a good thing”. Love web, lyra, single point trapeze and other spinning apparatus but afraid of the throwing-up factor?

You should be, it’s very real. Here’s how to get off to a good start and keep your cookies where they ought to be!

First, some fun info about why we throw up when we get too dizzy. A doctor I met a few years ago in a trapeze workshop had an interesting answer: poison. Apparently, a number of poisons make your head spin and disrupt your orientation, so your body’s natural response is “Aw, hell no! Get that OUT of here!!!” And there you have it – you cast up your accounts and live to see another day.

Whether that’s true or not, it can be a real drag to have to sit out half your aerial class with your head between your knees. So here are some things that may help:

  • Ginger (my personal fave is the Trader Joe’s crystalized stuff). Eat a bit before class and see what happens!
  • Experiment with closing your eyes. This makes me more nauseated, but I know some aerialists who swear by it!
  • Fix your eyes on your apparatus. Don’t try to spot the way you would in dance, you’ll look like you’re having a seizure. Just focus on your hoop or rope.
  • If focusing doesn’t help, try this! Blur your focus as much as you can (this one works well for me).
  • Start slow and keep at it. The more you spin, the greater your body’s ability to acclimate – don’t give up! Be persistant and think of the pounds you will have lost in a few weeks!

Bottom line? Rome wasn’t built in a day. Spinning the way we do simply isn’t natural, and your body will let you know in a dramatic fashion! You can and will get used to it – just keep a bag handy while you learn. If you’re a spinning apparatus enthusiast, what works for you?

Written by Laura Witwer (http://www.laurawitwer.com)

‘Pain Is Weakness Leaving The Body’ – An Aerialist

27 Jan

Painful-Face

Circo-Masochism

How Much Pain Is Too Much?

Written by Laura Witwer (http://www.laurawitwer.com)

A really great question: how much pain is too much? For those of us who fold ourselves in half backwards or hang by one toe for a living, this is definitely a gray area (one of 50 shades of gray, perhaps?). So, how do you tell the difference between “pinchy pain” and “oh-my-gosh-my-ankle-is-being-separated-from-my-body” pain? How much of a masochist do you have to be to succeed in circus?

Pinchy Pain – Circus Hurts

Pinchy Pain is the sensation that accompanies most of the cool stuff in circus – single ankle hangs, toe hangs on trapeze, wrapping your leg around your head four times, etc. It can be intense, but beyond a little bruise or “apparatus hickey”, you shouldn’t be doing significant damage to your body. How do you get past it so you can smile at the audience instead of grimace?

  • as you’re transitioning into the pinchy part, BREATHE. It doesn’t get better if you hold your breath, because now you’re suffocating AND getting a bruise. Let’s not compound our pain.
  • understand that there’s a point at which the pain doesn’t get any worse, when it becomes tolerable. When you hit that level, lean into it.  (**a note for the ladies: your experience of pain intensity will vary week by week during your cycle, so something that feels Too Painful one week may be much more manageable the next)
  • RESPECT YOUR LIMITS AND INSIST THAT YOUR COACH RESPECT THEM AS WELL. I cannot overstate this. It’s your body, and if it breaks, you’re the one who has to live in it. So if your coach is pushing too much, you can say something along the lines of, “Wow – that’s intense! I’m going to work up to that!” Then back off to a level you’re comfortable (well, slightly uncomfortable) with.

Eventually, that toe hang that felt like it was severing an artery doesn’t hurt anymore, and you can move on to the next thing. Your coach will likely warn you if something’s gonna hurt, so check with him or her if something is super ouchie and you’re not sure it should be. Circus hurts, but it doesn’t hurt forever.

Damaging Pain – You Didn’t Need That Kidney, Did You?

Damaging Pain is exactly what it sounds like – pain that is warning you of significant damage to your body (sprains, strains, tears, serious bruising, breaks, bad burns, tendonitis, etc).  Pain is your body’s way of setting boundaries; it’s kind of like your body’s “safe word” – there’s a warning, then there’s the no-go zone.  It goes without saying that you want to avoid Damaging Pain whenever possible – you don’t get a gold star for injuring yourself. A little bruise or callous rip is one thing, chronic tendonitis or bruised kidneys is something very different. It can take some time to discover exactly what those boundaries are for you, so until you’ve got a good sense of it, play it safer.

  • You can feel sore in the days after a class (especially early on), but you don’t want to feel broken
  • Beware of burning, grinding, sharp, or tearing pain
  • When in doubt, BACK OFF. If you take one thing from this post, let it be that.

At the end of the day, you’ve got to find that sweet spot between pushing your boundaries so you can grow, and taking care of the only body you have. You have to KNOW your body, and circus is an amazing place to learn that. Be safe, and I’ll see you in the air!

Love and pull-ups, Laura.

 

Bendy

21 Dec

SallyBW400

Circus artists delight and amaze us with their bodies. We admire their strength and we admire their flexibility.

Strength for many of us is relatively easy to obtain, you just have to make sure that you train regularly several times a week and you have to focus on your conditioning (Strength training). However even going to class once a week will see you developing your strength even if it is at a much slower rate. Flexibility on the other hand? This you have to fight for….

Many people who train in aerial arts for ‘fun’ will have a certain amount of strength from impressive to not impressive but it’s rare to come across a recreational aerialist who has the flexibility of your average professional unless they happen to be dancers. Yet having this flexibility and being able to perform exquisite front splits or a divine backbend can help to bring a routine to life especially on the lyra/aerial hoop where flexibility is expected.

So how do you achieve super bendinesss? Effective flexibility training is rarely offered for evening students at circus schools. I say effective because it’s never usually enough or ‘hands on’ to help you achieve your splits. I was actually advised to seek out a contortionist for flexibility classes. It took me a while and much research on contortion forums but eventually I did find a teacher and have been taking classes since 2011 which have enabled me to achieve my left and right front splits. My teacher is a world record holding contortionist who is originally from Mongolia and she is truly amazing. It’s a group class but she works with all the students individually helping them to achieve the flexibility at the rate that their body will allow and she gets amazing results. Her students come in as stiff as a board and after some time they emerge as limber as ballerinas.

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These classes aren’t a quick fix though. You have to put in the commitment. There are a rare few who after a few of these classes or even immediately achieve their splits but for the majority, flexibility will be much harder to attain so depending on the work that you put in and your body it can take from six months to a year to achieve the splits. So contortion/flexibility classes are the way to go but some words of advice:

  • Make sure that your teacher is qualified. A qualified teacher will understand how far they can ‘push’ your own unique and individual body and they won’t work beyond your range of flexibility.
  • Make sure that your teacher performs a thorough warm up. You do not want to start stretching cold muscles. This will lead to injury/torn muscles and will see you out of all training for months.
  • Generally, it’s better to work with a teacher who has worked through training to achieve their flexibility as opposed to a teacher who is naturally flexible. A teacher who hasn’t had to train to achieve their bendiness won’t have the same understanding of the body that a teacher who has had to train hard will.

Lastly even when you do achieve your splits it can still take time to be able to perform on demand and insert them into your aerial routine so be patient with yourself. You will get there. I did.

Rope me in!

30 Nov

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I’ve been training on the trapeze and lyra for a few years now but keen for a change and a challenge I decided to dip a very cautious toe into the world of rope/corde lisse.

I’ve always been in awe of people who train on the rope because let’s face it, it looks terrifyingly hard. Not only does it require brute strength it also requires a high tolerance for pain as the texture of the rope gifts you with all manners of burns, tears and bruises. This is before we even add in all the scary hands free drops. It’s definitely the preserve of the tough skinned kamikaze daredevil…

When I was at school, I can remember the evil sports teacher/crone Miss Miller asking us (A bunch of 11 year olds) to climb a rope without actually teaching us how to do it – an interesting teaching methodology. As you can imagine her method wasn’t a great success.

So it wasn’t until I started taking trapeze classes that I was reintroduced to the dreaded rope where it was used as part of our strength and flexibility building conditioning exercises. I was taught for the very first time how to climb a rope and boy was it hard work trying to haul my tired body upwards whilst holding on with weak kitten arms and a death grip in a desperate attempt to avoid falling off and dying. How I hated my climbing…

But then a strange thing happened. I got stronger and started to look forward to the rope!! Don’t get me wrong, it never got easier, mainly because of the amount of times we had to climb the rope in one class, but I started to actually enjoy it!

So this formed part of my decision making process to push myself by taking rope classes. I also thought that it would mean that I could feel more confident doing work on the trapeze ropes – use all parts of the equipment.

So far the classes have been tough and I have an assortment of rope ‘artwork’ across my body to prove it – particularly the bruise over my right hip which will not go…. I came to rope with pretty limited skills like catchers, hip lock, foot locks, knee drops, girl rests in rope and that’s pretty much it. I’m now being introduced to straddle climbs, hip lock climbs, scissor climbs, salto drops, the propellor and many more…

It’s early days yet and I am frustrated feeling limited in what I currently can/can’t do and I’m trying to overcome my fear – due to two falls in my first class – but I’m getting there and I’m getting stronger so watch this space. I’m won’t say that I love my classes just yet but I’m hanging on in there…. Literally!