Running Away with the Circus | Eclectic Cake: Running Away with the Circus

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Running Away with the Circus

If ever asked, I'd say the super power I would most love to have is the ability to fly. Which is perhaps why I've always had a secret love affair with the circus and the beautiful ease that aerial artists move through the air. But I'm telling you, it's really not that easy!

I found this out a few years ago, when I had the pleasure of spending a day playing the clown at Circus Space, near Hoxton Square. It was a taster session of all things circus – static trapeze, tightrope walking, stilt walking, juggling... I was bouncing off the walls with excitement days before I even got there, which turned out to be a good thing – I needed as much energy as possible to master some of these skills.

After a warm up that felt more like a workout, we were split up into smaller groups to start rotating through the different equipment. My group started with static trapeze - a trapeze bar suspended from the ceiling that doesn't swing. Our instructor swiftly showed us some tricks then said it was our turn to try! With little upper body strength at the time, I was pretty sceptical of my chances of even getting up to sit on the bar, but a few pointers from our instructor soon saw me (not very gracefully) clambering up to the bar. That was the hardest part. Once on the trapeze I found the various shapes and tricks fairly easy to pull off, which made it all the more rewarding.

Me throwing some shapes on the static trapeze.
Souvenir photos taken, we moved through our next activities. Juggling – where just fifteen minutes of brilliant tuition saw everyone in the group juggle for at least a few seconds! Diablo – which I'd done before but could now add new tricks to my repertoire. Tightrope walking – very tricky, but on the very last go I finally managed to get to the other side (possibly with a bit of a leap). Stilt walking – adding an extra two feet to my height, the scariest part was practising how to fall properly but once that was out the way I felt quite happy trotting around on my leg extensions.

Finally, after looking longingly at the other groups who had gone before us, it was time to give flying trapeze a go. Demonstration and safety talk over, it was time to climb the ladder. In the time it took to get from the crash mat at the bottom, to looking down from the top of the platform, I'm sure the ladder had grown – it felt very high up. And leaning forward to hold onto the bar, I felt even higher up. Gathering up courage, I stepped off the platform...and I was flying! It felt amazingly free. That is, until I tuned back into the real world to hear my instructor shouting 'forward' – to keep momentum, I had to move my legs. 'Back' – this was proving hard work on my abs. 'Forward' – oof, very hard work! But just as I began to tire, it was time to dismount.

I only had two turns at flying trapeze that day, but it was something I knew I needed more of – the rush of adrenalin, the physical and mental challenge, and the sheer fun. I'm now over a year into flying trapeze classes, and loving every minute of it. All my training has come from wanting to improve at trapeze, I've even dreamt about it! And it's now very much a part of who I am.

If you're interested in giving circus skills a go, I couldn't recommend Circus Space experience days more.

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