Week 2: Participants in the Tamasha, Upswing and Circus Space Training

Photo by Sarah Kameela Impey

Step Up Circus Training Day 6 by Milton Lopes

“First day of the second week: The Hoop
Unfortunately, I couldn’t be an active participant due to an injury I suffered this weekend whilst doing a show. It was enjoyable watching the class working on my favourite apparatus. After Vicky  asked us how our bodies were and getting positive answers, the class started with stretching  and conditioning  exercises. Then we had two and a half hours of people upside down hung by: one  leg and one hand shaping a  Half Angel,  two legs – one stretched  and one bent forming a Gazelle;  two feet and one hand forming the Mermaid and another shape where  you are hung only by the  ankles called …ankles.
Having done these shapes before I can say that the first time that  you do it, it is quite painful even when you are using your hands. It’s quite hard because you use bits of your body to grip that you don’t usually use so the skin gets friction burn from the iron hoop.
Whilst Vicky was teaching the moves individually the rest of the class was practicing what we learnt last week in the silks or practicing the moves they learned in the hoop.
What was great to watch, was the perseverance of everyone to try over and over again, trying to overcome their obstacles and their difficulties and never given up. Everybody seems so determined to learn more that even when they are resting they are doing conditioning exercises.
And everybody seems to learn so fast that today we learnt eight different positions. I guess we are having fun and very excited to be here. I am quite sure that some of us will carry on  training after these two weeks. I know I will. :)”

Photo by Sarah Kameela Impey

Step Up Circus Training Day 7 by Phoebe McIntosh

“As we come to the middle of the second week (and almost the end of the course- sob!) the aches we’ve been feeling from engaging never-before-used muscles has given way to one or two occupational grazes, bruises and strains. But, would we let that stop us? Of course not! We’re like the circus equivalent of rioting looters – determined, foolish and oblivious to pain  (but with morals, of course).

Today, like every morning, Vicki began by ‘checking-in’ with each member of the group to see how we were feeling. I like that we start the sessions in this way. Everyone becomes aware of how other people’s bodies are adjusting to the training, which may or may not be used as a measure for their own experiences. It also helps us to realise that we’re not alone in feeling a little sore here and there, and that the whole group is pushing through the pain and trying to progress a little further on each piece of equipment every day. Yes we CAN!

I’ve decided that launching straight into a game of ‘Tig/ It/ Tag’ (or whatever you call it depending on whether you’re a Northerner or Southerner) really is the best way to start a weekday! Talk about getting the blood pumping. And it’s not just any game of Tig- it Tag-it, oh no. We clamber, crawl, dodge, dive and roll until we get our hands on you! I’d love to see this made an obligatory method of getting to the office played between commuters – suits and all! This was followed by the whole group breezing through a few conditioning exercises (that’s right, we breezed-we’re hard core now) and then it was down to some hard graft on the hoop.

Because we’re working towards short, individual routines to present to each other on the final day, Vicki taught us a few extra moves that we may want to incorporate into our choreography, including a Back Balance and Front Balance into a ½ Angel. I was especially pleased that I managed to invert to get up onto the hoop on my first try today! Yay. This was only made possible by the fact that I’d finally stopped overthinking it and had “left myself alone” as my Drama Tutor used to say, and thanks to a little help from my friends – there’s nothing like a rousing chorus of “Go Phoebe” or “Come on, Phoebe’s Leg” from your fellow trainees to push you a little further than you think you can go.

As I write this (very sneakily from the computer at my day job) I can’t help but think that this training is making me stronger, fitter and physically more confident by the day and also, how nice it would be if aerial circus training were my new day job; the one I do in between auditions, the one which lets me scale silks, hang from hoops and bounce from bungees 40 hours a week!  I’m pretty sure that I’ll have a few withdrawal symptoms after Friday. But, if nothing else, at least I’ll have bigger muscles to parade around the office with and a real sense of achievement to send me on my way!”

Photo by Phoebe McIntosh

Step Up Circus Training Day 8 by Sabina Arthur

“‘YES WE CAN!’ has become the unofficial group motto as we work through the pain. We’re beginning to realise that this is actually true! The session started with a group check-in, and I noticed the increased energy, confidence and positivity from everyone as we went around the circle. This is hard work, but we’re all having a great time and our bodies are finally starting to accept what we’re asking them to do. Despite the injuries most of us have had to contend with at some point during the course, we’re starting to feel that we’re winning the fight.

Some of us are approaching aerial work from scratch while others have had some previous training, so we’ve all come to this with varying levels of experience and fitness. Today, after the usual gruelling hour of body conditioning, we mainly worked on the silks. We were taught three new moves: the roll up, standing splits and those who had mastered the invert got to try a new drop.

Everyone is working on their own personal struggles and progressing at their own pace, but we’re all feeling a sense of achievement for pushing ourselves, and appreciating the progress we’ve made in just over a week. While it’s frustrating when you just can’t get that move quite right, or stay in a handstand for a full 60 seconds, the whoops and cheers of this fabulously supportive group is a huge help.

The session ended with a well-earned massage in groups of three – we were all expecting more conditioning exercises so it was a welcome relief to just relax and let four hands concentrate on all those muscle aches and pains.

This has been an amazing opportunity to learn something completely new and I’m getting stronger and more determined with each day. I’m so glad that I was chosen to take part and will definitely continue to train when it’s all over.”

Photo by Sabina Arthur

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