Friday, 23 May 2014

Chapter 8: Learning the ropes

"So, has anyone done rope, or had any sort of climbing experience before?" asked the instructor.  I keep very quiet.  I can, on occasion.   Manage expectations - lesson learned from accountancy days.

Whether you are doing the first level of aerial skills, acrobalance or equilibrium at the National Centre for Circus Arts in Hoxton, the 12 week course is split into three four-week rotations. This means for aerial that you work your way round rope, static trapeze and flying trapeze, while Anne's acrobalance group rotate around handstands, tumbling and acrobalance. For equilibrists it's the unicycle, tightrope and walking on a ball.

Rope was the least appealing of the aerial trio to me.  Rope burns.  That's the lesson that lingers.  On pole you wear as little as possible to maximise grip, on rope you cover up to minimise the friction, but it still digs into you.  It's painful. Now, I am aware of existence of the noble art of rope bondage, but I never thought I'd be one to get kicks out of tying myself in knots.   Rope, the circus art, is a slippery skill, however much sticky resin you rub into your hands to grip.  If you don't get the balance right you can just end up swinging around wildly.   Less Tarzan, more trussed-up turkey.  You think, what the hell am I doing here?  This is ridiculous.  I just can't get the hang of it.  Never will.  And then you do.  There is a swing from utter desolation to pure elation.  Challenging boundaries, pushing frontiers, whatever your level, that's the beauty of it.   And, like pole, the joy of the community - encouraging each other, celebrating each little victory.

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