Poster for an acrobatic circus streetshow

Circus Artists In The Zoo

Ah, yes.  Sunday school.  Today was the Montreal “Day of Culture” so the school was full of curious onlookers watching us train.

Dance was better than usual, despite the problems of having people come up and watch us throwing off my concentration a bit at the bar.  Actually, usually dance goes pretty well.  It was just the last class that was a little off.  Working on the dance project was also better.  It is just a matter of creativity.  We have fixed the dance problem to some degree, now we need to have more contact and more creativity.  Ha ha.  Easy.  Ha ha. 

I had my first equilibe class with Larissa.  Byamba thinks it is good for me to work with her.  She speaks almost only Russian, with a little French and English and supposedly Japanese, so she has a translator hang out with her.  She is pretty tough, and wants me to switch to the two-fingered grip.  I guess I have to!  Lot’s of flexibility work needed (duh), she said that the girls will help me.  They better!  Strength conditioning as well.  It was fun.  She introduced a hands-together drill and a lot of good strength exercises that we are supposed to do every day.  At the end of class, she taught us how to do a traditional russian circus bow and how to say thank you and goodbye in Russian.  We also learned “Hands together,” “good,” and “ladder.”  Of course I have forgotten all of that.  Then was tumbling, but nothing great happened there except that I was feeling no pain.  My arm even seems to be doing what my mind tells my body to do!  Knock wood.  Still clicks and catches, and was a bit weak this morning, but ah well.

Trampo was good, didn’t learn any new skills but did improve my back drop a lot.  My back tucks suffered for it a bit, though, I think.

It was fun feeling the energy of the school during the open house.  Lots of fun things were going on like russian bar and planche, and three of the upperclassmen’s YMCA hand to hand routine stole the show.  There were some cute girls coming through as well!

I didn’t mention that I have been training in the back tuck off of the wall trick on trampo.  It is coming along well, but I need to fight that slight turn to the left that I always do.

Then we went off to have our first ever evaluation concept meeting at The Trapezist’s house.  Only The Clown, The Flyer, The Acrobat, The Trapezist and I went.  The Acrobat did two great side salto’s off of things on the way.  Absolutely effortless.  When we got to The Trapezist’s, The Clown tried to take a leadership position.  He threw out his ideas and tried to take charge.  Didn’t work like that all at once, though.  What started to work much better was for everyone to throw out their ideas but in a structured way.  Only a few people really contrinuted any ideas though.  Mine was to have the performers be everyday people, The Acrobat added that it should be a dream sequence of a homeless guy to make it crazy and surreal, and The Clown agreed.  We want there to be some very dark elements, and for everything to be wild.  I have an idea for an explosion of group juggling with balls.  Lots of room to play with tempos and things like that.  All-in-all it was an intereting study in group dynamics.  Some of the people in our group did not show up because it was too far for them or because they forgot or something.  The Clown was pretty mad, but I think that things will happen as they happen.  Of course I think that some of their behavior was unprofessional too, but they will learn.

Then everyone but The Clown and The Trapezist and I left, and we talked for a bit. 

The Canadian Olympic curling team! (four street show acrobats in France)

The Gang

Okay.  Let’s catch up.  The summary is that this weekend, as weird as it is with having a four day week last week and a six day week coming up, has seemed to last forever.  Pizza night was pretty laid back, The Trapezist, The Aerialist, The Clown, The Artist, and myself.  Nice and chill, oh The Contortionist was there too, and we decided to go and check out the party at The Funambulist’s since The Clown, The Contortionist, and I were not going to go to the history of circus class after all.  The Trapezist was still talking about how tough it is to get a straight answer out of me, and The Contortionist was also being chummy, so I was having a nice time.  At The Funambulist’s, we were the only group there at first.  We played around a bit, seeing if I would look good holding a cigarette and stuff like that.  A good party, and The Clown was (of course) talking a lot about sex.  He said at the end that he enjoys my since of dry sense of humor.  At one point, The Trapezist posed me to look like a crime boss with my Ukrainian shirt open halfway and with The Artist and The Clown on each side of me as bodyguards.  The Funambulist let me play the bottlecaps game with her roommate, and I got pretty good at it.

Then I went to the school again yesterday to meet for a brunch that the kids were planning.  All of them were looking pretty dazed as they came out of the place.  The concensus was: good but long.  Brunch was great, right on St. Catherine street, and I had french pancakes with an ommelette in it.  Good, but huge.  People kept stealing my food and stuff.  Talked with The Trapezist again, and then we all went ot The Artist’s and watched “Night at the Roxbury” in French.  I told The Clown “I’m worried that we are those guys.”  He said “I thinking that since the beginning of the movie.”  I left for a while before the big party that would be at their place later.  The Clown and I tried to get the “Night at the Roxbury” Soundtrack as well as the album with “Push It” on it, but we couldn’t find it.

When I got to the party, it was basically a huge juggling fest.  Then it became a festival of equilibre and main a main skills.  The Trapezist wanted to try everything, and I was still feeling weak in my shoulder, so I ended up spotting more than porting.  When I tried to be a flyer on The Mentor, I realized that I had not done that since free training at the beginning of the year.  I need to get that stuff in shape!

The Trapezist’s friend from the trapezium was there and according to The Trapezist was feeling a little sad that she had not gotten into the school.  Additionally she evidentially has a crush on one of the upperclassmen. 

My planche’s were being held pretty well!

Today was Cirque du Soleil.  It was fun going there for their open house with pretty much the whole gang again.  We rushed through most of the tour, running into one of the upperclassmen who was working as a clown there, and then stopped off at the gymnasium where we saw a girl who was going to replace a handbalancer who was leaving one of the shows.  She was pretty good, very rhythmic gymnastic-y.  We also saw a little russian swing, but nothing more than a back tuck.  In the kids play area, some of our gang did some handstands and one arm planches and hand-to-hand, while The Tumbler did some tumbling.  I did a planche.  Then we played on a smooth floor where I did turtles and got spun around by my feet.

Turns out The Trapezist did not spend the night, but she did stay until 7am, leaving when The Clown did.  I told The Artist I was not going to get in his way, but The Clown said he might.  The Artist and I are similar in many ways, The Clown is different.  We are a good mix of three, though.  Maybe I go to see a dance show tonight since Deb Brown’s thing is sold out.  What a weekend!

Acrobat riding a deer statue in Arnhem, Holland

Success and Improvement

Ah, finally a nice day.  It is definitely autumn, now however.  You can smell it in the air and you can feel the edge of a chill on the walk to school.  Leaves are falling now as well.

Physical conditioning first.  The ante is continually upped now, as Esteban has noticed that I do more than I am asked to do.  This means that he is telling me to do more numbers.  ie, 30 calf raises instead of 20, which means I must do 40!  Hopefully, it will work out for the best.

I am, however, horrendously weak in abs and legs for jumping.  I need to remedy this.

Then came trampo.  Carol told me again to get an apple or something before class, and it has proven itself again.  It’s funny how I realize exactly how food and sleep will affect my training.  She taught me a back tuck today.  Even though I’ve been doing them for almost 6 years now, I was scared to do this one for some reason.  I guess it comes down to a weird fear of doing something once you have seen or are aware of the “correct” way of doing it.  Everything was good, though.  Always can improve the form, of course.

ITA with Alex!  Fun stuff.  I started out with The Clown as double porters in the cradle.  I had to explain and call the tricks we were supposed to do to The Clown as we were doing them.  The Clown was tired, didn’t like the class, and didn’t want to be there.  We have a good time up there anyway, singing songs, posing, talking to flyers.  When The Aerialist is up, I always say:  Ah!  The beautiful woman.  For The Trapezist it is always: My favorite flyer! 

Then came swinging trapeze.  I can see why people want to do it now.  When the thing starts flying, you can really feel it!  At the end I got to be a flyer again, just doing a back tuck from stationary.  The Trapezist was upset that Alex corrected her form, but didn’t seem to mind when he corrected mine!

The first stuff we had to do was tough, though.  We had to grab the flyer’s hands, switch to feet on the knee-crunch, switch to hands on the front, two times each, and then throw her for a salto back.  Ouch.  Everyone else was something like backtuck to feet mount, switch to hands on the frontswing, carp, uncarp, back tuck.

Juggling was as juggling is.  Lost some endurance contests, but whatever.  I do my own endurance on my own time.

The Clown, The Contortionist, The American, and I had to talk to Isabelle about history of circus that we were supposed to go to tomorrow.  Turns out we can wait til next year when we know more French, if we want to.  I do want to wait.  I also found out that I have been switched into Byamba’s Equilibe III class!  Isabelle said that that only happens except if the teacher asks for it, and that he is very specific in what he wants.  He wanted to work with me, so I should take it as a big compliment.  Belive me, I do.  She said that Sylvain had asked me to join his class as well because I have good work ethic, that people like me, and that I am easy to get along with.  Nice compliments!  I am glad that this is the case.

Byamba seemed happy that I got in to his class and that I was so happy for that.

Hand to hand was fun too!  I did three successful turns on the ground with all three flyers, and then tried our first three-person structure.  Didn’t work, but I definitely felt it.  Next time.  Sylvain said that The Mentor  said that I just got my flyer up on my shoulders based on pure strength, and that I should use more dynamics to make the lift easier.

There is also going to be a school cabaret possibly, and The Clown and I are thinking of a possible music and hand to hand act.  Took a quick shower and was late to nutrition.  My Ukrainian shirt got a lot of hoots and hollers.  It was funny.  Worth a late, I think.

At one point, the teacher asked “how does the body turn glycogen into energy?”  Suddenly, all of my course 7 work on respiration came back, but I realized that this was probably not the answer she was looking for.  She just wanted to talk about simple and complex carbohydrates.

Then pizza night and party at The Funambulist’s!  But that will have to wait until later, because I am tired!!

Waking up to street acrobat buddies travelling through Europe in tents

Another Bad Day

The injury is not much better, and it hurts, now.  I don’t know if that is a good or a bad sign.  Flexibility was fine, but I was apprehensive about letting The Acrobat do our typical “make me cry” routine on my shoulders.  I went ahead anyways. 

People here think eating apples with peanut butter is weird. 

Dance class was the worst.  We were shown the combinations that we need to learn for the assessment, and they were pretty tough.  Then for the piece we need to put together, my partner and I were told that we were just doing hand to hand, and not real dance.  So we need to “do something that no one has ever seen before”  i.e., we need to start over from the beginning and retool.  Yuk. 

Equilibe was fine, but I was working alone and my shoulder was weak and hurt.  Tumbling was blah.  Trampoline at least was okay because I was getting skills like my back drop and front somersault a little bit more consistent and with slightly better form.  I said I sucked so I bent my legs, and Caroline said that I was good.  Thanks for the support, Caroline. 

There were some good moments to the day, though.  The first was Sylvain approaching me to ask me if I wanted to do a columns and pyramids with some people who had done it last year.  Of course I said yes, so it looks like 30 minutes of my Monday evenings will go to that.  Basically, if I am offered an opportunity, I have decided that my blanket answer will always be yes.  Then I just need to make it work. 

Not two minutes after that, Isabelle came up to me to try to figure out if I can switch to an intro equilibe class with Byamba.  We can maybe make it work, but I might have to be moved into equilibre 3.   That would not be a problem, though, I shouldn’t think.  I just need to look out for my arm. 

I joked with Alex telling him that I would spot The Star for her cradle act.  Ha ha.

I also watched the documentary “variations on a new generation” which had some alums of the school in it.  Reminded me that there could be a very special bond there if I let it happen.

Four acrobats doing a circus street show as they travel through France


Got an okay amount of sleep, I thought, before the cable guy came to install the cable TV and Internet access.  Trampo started out okay, but I am still really flaky when it comes to back drops.  ITA and juggling were as to be expected, but I was so hungry by the end.  I was also picking up vibes that The Trapezist and one of her friends is frustrated with me for some reason or another, they are both being kind of cold. 

Hand to hand was tough without a left arm, and I decided not to do any supplementary equilibe today.  We did do neck to neck balances today, though, which was fun.

I felt really slow and dumb today, which was weird.

Started thinking about how to teach circus in the context of theater for the Masque kids today.  Basically, expanding the body’s limits so that you are well prepared to undertake anything you might want to.

Movement was weird.  After the yoga stuff, we put blindfolds on and wandered around the room with weird sounds or whispering or yelling in made-up languages.  Kind of fun, but I was not in the mood for it.

The Aerialist has a torn ligament, and will need surgery.  Makes you take stock, you know?  I told her that she needs to stay happy and these months will still prove to be productive for her.  I told her I had surgery too, and that it is not as bad as it initially seems.

Of course I would not have believed it at the time, either.



Street acrobats counting their money from a circus street show on a trip to Barcelona

My Arm Doesn’t Work!

Jeu this morning!  We didn’t do too much new stuff which was a bit of a drag, but I did work out a stage combat piece with The Clown that was nice.  We kept it loose and left room for improv, regarded the audience a fair amount, and he was happy as well.  He asked “Hey man, you want to be my partner?”  Talking about Europe this summer.  Don’t know yet, because of the possibility of work in the States.  It would be nice to get performance training under my belt, but also performance and teaching experience at the Masque is nice.  Two first years collided hard with their heads today in their stage combat piece.  One had a huge bump on her forehead.  I gave her antiinflammatories and a drink of my water.  She seemed okay later in the day. 

I started work on my independent conditioning program.  I’m really used to training all alone but here people always seem to come up to you when you train.  I really am beginning to appreciate that sort of support in the gym.  The help me stretch, keep me company, etc.  I have been working on my hollow-backs and came up with a new exercise just for that.  


I also found out that The American and one other first year are unhappy with the school and are not planning on finishing school here.  I guess because they do not like how generallized everything is here right now.  Wish they did their research earlier!  There are other people who would have killed to be in their spot.  They are thinking of going to the San Francisco school instead. 

Trampo was cancelled, so I did another hour of equilibre with Byamba.  The pike presses and handstand pushups at the end were funny.  I did 5 and 10, and When someone asked how many, Byamba said 25.  When I was done, everyone came over and pretended to eat my muscles.  Weird, but flattering, I guess. 

Fil de fer was fil de fer.  Need new shoes. 

Then came Russian Bar.  It was much better today, and a lot of fun.  I feel the jumping motion a lot better,  The key, really, I think, is to stay relaxed.  My goal is a good salto by the end of October. 

Another hour of equilibe, and then planche!  We did Korean style this time, which means that you neeed to land back on the planche.  Easier and harder than it seems.  It is really all in the timing and the placement, and it takes a lot out of your quadriceps.  There is some precision involved, and when you send someone, you really need to press that sucker down.  I want to be doing double backs off of Korean plank by the end of October or so. 

I was hanging out after Planche, and Alexander the ITA coach came over to me and said “Tanabe, you coach acro.”  He was the only one teaching the preparatory kids since Caroline was out, and wanted help.  So I taught 45 minutes or so of acro, making it a fun class for the kids, and then hung out with Alex for a bit. We watched kids jump from the blue padded wall into the pit.  They were all so scared!  Alex said “No, is okay.  Mostly, they are interested in playing.”  So it was a fun class for them all.  The little girl wanted us to come see her jump into the pit.  After she went, Alex said, “Tanabe, show them double salto.”  I’d never done one like that from standing before!  Even into a pit!  So I was a little apprehensive, but I wasn’t about to show my Russian coach, the “torture monster,” that!  So I jumped right up there, and he shouted to the gym “Toutlemonde!  Toutlemonde!  Regarde Tanabe!”  Thanks Alex.  Off I went, standing double salto (well, 1 ¾).  After that, Straps Guy and The Trapezist joined me.  She was a bit of a chicken.  I did also a gainer back and synchro front with Straps Guy and a strong-looking kid from the high school program.  Also a double front in synchro, and saw Straps Guy do a back full. 

My side summies are coming along well, and I can do them easily on the trampoline, now.  Straps Guy had me do them looking at him and making a face.  To relax, just scratch your nose! 

I talked with The Trapezist asked me if she was any good at equilibe.  I said “Yes ,” without hesitating and asked if she could work harder.  She said that she worked as hard as her body would allow, and I said then you are as good as you can possibly be.  This bothered her for some reason, but what more can a person ask for?  There is only tomorrow for improvement.  Your maximum potential must be met at every moment.  “You don’t need to be so strict with yourself,”  she commanded me when I insisted on teaching the preparatory kids, “you can have fun.”  She had offered to take over for me.  I don’t know what she means by that.  Self-discipline is something you work hard to obtain, but is really hard to lose.

Acrobats travelling to New York doing tricks on the Brooklyn Bridge

Ah, Free Training

Just went into the gym for musculation.  It was nice to have The Artist be all happy to see me.  I jumped on the teeterboard for some of the high school students for a bit, and then just did weights.   

The toilet overflowed, and the high school students who still haven’t figured out the lat slap want me to show it to everyone he meets.  There are all these conspiracy theories as to how I do it. 

Ordered cable and internet service today.  Hope I can afford it! 

My arm was better today, but after training it was back to the same.  I just need to take it easy. 

Feel bad that I did not help The Aerialist and The Frenchman paint their place, especially since The Aerialist is injured.  I will see if they can use help tomorrow. 

Maybe tonight there is a movie at The Artist’s place. 

I am sleepy!