Circus acrobats doing a two-high column in the annual show of the National Circus School

The Russian Connections

Working with a handbalancing graduate while Byamba is away.  He’s teaching more about the Russian style and I’m getting a big planche workout from him.

Getting pointers from Larissa’s husband.

Wall work.

Seeing the national geographic special on the Russian circus and school.

ITA: being ported by The Clown and porting The Clown.

Talking with Alexander about the school and that his son will help me out.

Working with The Clown on the juggling number.  The idea of a moveable screen and playing with the impossibility illusions there.

Main a main and being annoyed by the flyers annoying uppityness.

Sylvain being much less friendly to me.

Having the review of fall session’s sante class and trying to make The Acrobat laugh without laughing myself.

The flyers’ annoying uppityness extending to that class too.

Pizza night almost all in French.

The Russians talking to some colon cleaner lady in Russian.

Flexibility and musculation crammed into an hour.

Seeing Larissas hoop and web act.  Spinny.  Interesting.

Group act in the animation before the National Circus School annual show

Grumpiness And Burnout At Circus School

Slept in again, missing my equilibre major class but with no Byamba, I am not too worried.

Started with ITA where I stayed at the cradle the whole time.  I ported for over half the class.  Alexander is giving me good advice.  He said that he would buy me a huge bag of peanuts at Costco when he goes next.  I almost finished the ones he said I could take from him yesterday right before I almost got a migraine before trampo.

I worked with The Clown in juggling on our number that we have to prepare for the end of the year.  It will be a hat number.  It is funny that it is the two of us and then the rest of the class, most of whom worked with us in the evaluation concept.

We presented to them and I think thought it looked pretty good.  Main a main was ok too, but I was sick of the girls, who would sit in a spot that they repeatedly were almost run into as others of them fell from the barre russe.  Dumb!  People really seem to be getting on my nerves lately.

In movement I got to do my first contact impro class with The Contortionist.  Have to admit it was a little more fun that my second time with one of the first year guys.  Anyways, the technique is making more sense, now.

Then I did a little Byamba equilibre.  I also talked with The Trapezist about Russian teachers and things like that.  We obviously have differing opinions on the matter.  Now I’m tired and not looking forward to dance.


Acrobats backstage at the circus show "Kosmogonia"

First of the Second

Oh my god.  Two weeks is far to freaking long to be on vacation.  I got to school at 8 so that I could get ready, say hi to people, etc, in addition to getting used to a more morning-like schedule.  Just got in from vacation yesterday at 4, too.  Jeu was fun, we did a lot of warm up things, and finished with the mirror exercise where one person needs to tell a story while the other leads the mirror.  One of the other first years and The Clown went and it was hilarious, and then The Acrobat and one of the high school girls went and it was fantastic and I was paired with The Dreamer. After the pause we changed partners and I went with The Contortionist. We had to declare love to each other.  I ended with crawling under the carpet with The Contortionist.  We had a good time. 

I had prep. physique with Richard for the first time.  It will be much harder, I think.  Then, equilibre with Larissa.  The only injury I have right now is my left wrist.  The bone in it hurts a lot, just the tip of the radius or whatever.  My balance was all off, and I think that that frustrated her.  She and Alex are really hyped about getting me the info for the school in Moscow.  I’m excited that they are so excited, but I am also worried that it will be a huge decision in my future.

Acro was acro, with Esteban being all excited that I went to Mexico, telling me that the best bordellos are in Tijuana, etc.

Trampo was another example of being really out of form.

We are switching to “monkey feet” tight wire, and the whole apparatus came tumbling down before we started due to no one’s fault, really.  The monkey feet hurts a bit, but will be a fun challenge.

Then I did an hour of flexibility, including my active flexibility workout which essentially entails martial arts training (the kicks).

That one teacher who works all the time came up to me and The Clown and said in French that she did not get a chance to talk with us after the evaluation concept, but that she really liked what The Clown, The Acrobat, and I did.  That was nice to hear.

Alex also told me stuff about eating and told me that we will talk about my future sometime.  He said that there are alive foods and dead foods, and that you need to eat the alive foods.  He could not really describe the distinction.  Eggs are alive.  Mayo and canned foods and pasta are dead.  Rice is alive.  Fresh fruit and vegetables and meat are alive.  He said that his main hand-to-hand students understand only a little of what he says, and that he will tell me more day by day.  It is good to be back and to be healed with the exception of my wrist, but two weeks and a half gets you really out of shape in the worst way.  I hope it all comes together soon, but I am relegated to feeling really sore tomorrow.  It was great seeing The Clown and The Acrobat again.  The Tumbler broke his foot falling down the stairs outside his and The Clown’ home!

Kung Pao Chicken

2+ lb chicken breast


4 bunches green onions

4-6 cloves garlic

4-6 slices ginger

3 tablespoons red pepper flakes

6 tbls soy sauce

3 tbls white rice vinegar

3 tbls white wine

1 tbls sugar (which i think we forgot?)

unsalted dry roasted peanuts

  • Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet or wok over medium-high heat until the oil shimmers.
  • Add the garlic. Cook and stir for 15 seconds.
  • Add the onions. Cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or heatproof silicone spatula, for 2 to 4 minutes or until crisp-tender. Remove onions from the pan.
  • If needed, add more oil to the pan. Add the meat to the pan. Cook and stir until the meat is cooked through. (If necessary, cook the meat in batches to prevent overcrowding. If the pan is too full, the meat will water out and steam instead of fry.)
  • Push the cooked meat from the center of the wok or skillet. Add the sauce to the center of the skillet. Cook and stir the sauce until bubbly.
  • Return all vegetables. Cook and stir everything about 1 minute more or until the meat and vegetables are coated with the sauce and heated through.
  • Add peanuts.
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!!

Back In The Saddle

Ah.  So either getting 10 hours of sleep or going to bed at 11 or eating two cheeseburgers made a huge difference. Things were much better.  I had so much more energy, and I had so much of a better attitude.  I think at some point I might include caloric data as well as sleep and wake times to correlate how well my days go.  

Physical preparation was a breeze, the only hard stuff for me is lower body things.  This is frustrating not only because of my injury, but also because I want to be a tumbler to no small degree.  When Esteban gives us a number of a certain exercises to do, I always add between five and ten repetitions to that number.  This is my attempt to stay above the expectations.  The last five or so extra that I do I consider to be for me; the first fifteen or so were for the class. 

Trampoline was fun, too.  I started to work on some more difficult routines, but was able to get through them all at least once.  The trick now is to hit them all with form. 

The only good thing about ITA today is that Alexander said “Bravo, Tanabe” to me after class.  I had just served as a solo porter in the cradle and not screwed up.  Made me feel pretty proud.  He is a tough guy and he is hard to please, but it makes it that much more of a big deal when you do please him. 

Juggling was juggling, but we did three person ball passing today and the teacher showed me some hat tricks.  She was impressed with my progress on the bouncing juggling and the circle juggling. 

Finally, hand to hand was hand to hand, but The Trapezist said “you are really strong, eh?” after I did a lift with her.  It is this sort of thing that makes me want to train harder and harder.  The expectations are continually raised for me, and I need to improve at a rate that is keeps up with those expectations. 

I did equilibre today on my own and was able to hit ten of each of the handstand kickups, tucked, straddled, and piked, as well as my full static strength workout.  As can be expected, my static strength was a little weak, that’s what happens when you do it three days running, but that is also the way of circus. 

I am trying to think of how I can boil this experience down into a class to give the Masque kids this summer.  I think it will be doable. 

I also did a bit of a tumbling contest with The Hotshot and the Trampolinist.  We tried to see who could do the furthest dive roll and front tuck.  They won, but only by a few inches.  I like that sort of competition.  I am really enjoying the “Book of Five Spheres,” which an MIT friend gave me as a going away present. 

Pizza was next, and hanging out with the kids is as fun as ever.  We went to Ban Thai, The Clown, The Artist, The Contortionist, The Aerialist, The Frenchman, and an upperclassman, The Porter.  It was fun.  French and German and Quebec lessons all around.  I taught The Aerialist how to sit like an American; she is always so prim and proper looking! 

Whoa boy.  I want to get to sleep earlier tonight so that I can continue this streak.

Circus acrobat doing a planche on straps

Worst Day Yet

Today sucked.  Nothing good happened at all except that I made it through my first tumbling class since admitting that I was injured a week ago.  Not bad, but I will continue to ice it for a while.  Dance was fun, we started barre and I was pretty good again at the improv section even though I wasn’t happy with my partner.  We did not have an instructor for handstands today, and I was having a crappy day; didn’t hold a single handstand, and so I went and ate instead of finishing up.