Acrobats setting up for a circus street show in France

Many Problems Abound

Today was the first day of final exam presentations which were a lot more fun than I expected them to be.  It’s not too high-stress.  I managed by best side summies and hit the standing full.  Mario mentioned to the jury that I kept working in spite of my wrist injury which was nice of him. 

Aladdin went, and that’s the most important thing: it’s just done. 

Trampo was fine, I had fun but I mistakenly thought it was two warm-ups and one real one but it was actually one warm up and two real ones and I screwed up on one of the real ones but I still had fun and the teacher didn’t fail me.  I’m really tired because I got in at 1am this morning from Boston where I spent a day or two to see friends. 

Friday night I went out to The Clown’s house which was fun.  I was able to actually shoot the breeze and make people laugh and be interesting in French which is an improvement. 

The Clown and I worked on our juggling number for about 90 minutes today because we present tomorrow.

Circus school student getting stretched for his center splits

Psychoactive Tuna

My computer died so I had to reinstall everything.  These two weeks of silence have stemmed from me feeling as though nothing I accomplish in life is going to make me that I’ve finished anything.  Weird to look ahead at a whole lifetime of feeling that way.  But what is, is. 

I’ve been feeling very misanthropic.  It’s just been frustration with people who seem to be at the school just to have fun and play around and pretend to be circus artists.  It makes it difficult to really train seriously.  I’ve been concentrating so much on the problems I have on form in handstands or that various tricks aren’t coming. 

We have a new huge coach for hand to hand, Ivan, who is taking over for Sylvain.  We call him “Ivan the Terrible” (behind his back of course), but we all really like him.  He worked in Australia for 9 years.  Sylvain is working with him now because he doesn’t speak any French, just English and Russian and it is obvious that there is a big difference in their styles.  I get to be a flyer and a porter which is all good.  

Today The Clown and I went on a “porter strike” in ITA because the Quebecois in our ITA class had been complaining that we never do trapeze or high bar.  So today,  we just did that and left the flyers to port each other which I’m not sure they enjoyed.  I think they got our point and we got to relax from porting for a day! 

We’ve had two Quebecois guests come to talk to us about substance abuse and balance and life.  We all had to bring in a can to make the case that you need to put big stones in your can first and then put the little stones in because if you put the little things in first there won’t be any room for the big things.  It was in French so I didn’t get any of that and ended up asking why we had to bring the cans in just after they had gone through that whole explanation in French.  Oops. 

We had a presentation about psychoactive drugs and The Clown and I had to do a sketch about stimulants, depressants, and psychoactive drugs.  W e imitated the nervous system before and after alcohol and then acted out what our classmates were reading in a monotone about stimulants which culminating in us running out of the room and stripping to our underwear in the hallway and then running back in.  Then, I read about hallucinogens as The Clown acted it out with me eventually joining in doing contact improvisation in our underwear.  The class next door told us we had to be quiet a few times. 

I’ll be playing Aladdin for our acting class’ final presentation and it’s hard getting people to have realistic characters – they always want to play cartoonish images like old people with bent-over backs and canes and things like that.  Its also a challenge getting them to be more perfectionistic.  Their point of view is that “everyone knows the story so why do we need to show everything?” 

Yesterday we had a good time doing our first workshop for the end of the year show and things went pretty well but it really comes down to who you work with.  If you work with the right people you know you’re ok.  I ended up working with a great group.  We’re working on things that we’re going to do in the outside part of the show.  We were in the car wash group, another group worked on VIP scenario, and another worked on a picnic animation that we’re doing with the public. 

The night before at a duo birthday party for The Tumbler/complaining session, The Gang were all worried that we were going to end up working with people we didn’t get along with. 

I think part of reason I’ve been feeling low energy the last couple of weeks or months believe it or not has been a lack of tuna.  I say that because after not much protein for a really long while I had a can of tuna today and found I had a lot of energy for the rest of the day, so I think there’s something about the protein in the tuna or something that really helps.

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.

Street performing circus acrobats on tour in Spain


Started the day with planche.  Not the best day as far as jumps go, but I did exit the board with the run and jump version which is a bit scarier.  One of the times though, I went too early and the jumpers landed with no weight on the board.  Oops.  The Artist got frustrated with me at one point.  Then we switched to minitramp into the pit, and I did a 2 ½ front and a cool little thing on a bench setup, ½ on, full off.  Then I did a double full to my face.

After that was the meeting for the evaluation concept which we needed to totally retool since our homeless guy idea did not pass.  We are now a circus family in the modern day who is evidently very distractible.  There was a moment of imagined conflict when I told The Clown that he interrupted too much.  He at first was defensive, but then told me he realized I was right.  The cigarette smoke and pot bothered me.  We were in the meeting for like 3 hours and then went to a party.  Here are the things I remember from the weekend:


Doing a backflip to get a student discount to see “Amelie,”  that great French movie about the girl by the City of Lost Children guy.

Sitting in the coffee shop with The Trapezist and The Clown with The Clown forgetting that we were waiting on him to go while he talked and talked and talked.

Black light bathrooms

Getting Tintin and Asterix to work on my French.

Seeing Zoolander and Cirque du Soleil and Shanghai Noon all in one day.

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!!

Circus acrobats travelling on a day trip to New York


Woke up later than I planned, and got to school at 10:15AM thinking that I could do the running assessment and then take off to get my social insurance number so that I can start working at the school.  Turns out, however, that the running assessment started at 10 and finished at 10:20!  So I have my first unexcused absence from the school.  That’s no good!  I don’t think that it will be frowned upon too harshly, however, since many other first years missed the assessment as well.  It was not very well publicized.  I did eight minutes, but probably could have gone longer if I had not (very hopefully) thought that I was being told to stop when The American was asked to stop.  Now I realize that It doesn’t matter if you hit the red line each time, just that your pace is not faltering too far behind everyone else’s. 

After the assessment I went to get my card.  It really did not take very long at all. 

When I got back, I talked with Pierre a little bit about my plan for the handbalancing and acro number in an office theme with two walls that come together at an angle that I have been thinking about.  He seemed keen on the idea and had some useful advice.  Pierre talked about adding a bench at a weird angle.  I like it in theory, but I think that it will take away from the office idea that I really like.  He also though of maybe having only one wall, which might work if it was very clear that it was the wall of an office and not just a decoration.  It would add to the surrealism. 

I decided with Caroline that I would just do trampoline as a minor, not tissue tramp.  It is everything that I need to be working on right now, and those things are necessary for tissu.  It just made sense.  Made her laugh like mad when we discovered that for twisting skills parallel to the bed, I twist left while for everything else I twist right.  I said “shit.”  And then “or tabarnac!  As they taught me.”  She couldn’t stop laughing.  I guess it is a pretty bad phase!  Mental note.

ITA was utterly uneventful as was juggling.  Sort of hit a low period there, except that I got to throw one of the upperclassmen who I think is easily the sexiest girl in the school.  She talked to me the other day.  In French, so I didn’t understand much, but I was flattered.  She is so high up there. 

The Mentor got injured a bit yesterday doing main et main with that girl with braces who I never remember the name of.  She missed a salto to his hands from his hands, and he ended up getting her crotch in his face at high velocity since she over-rotated in the belt.  He was on the ground and didn’t look happy, but I talked to him later and he said it was a little stiff but that it was okay.  He performed last night, so I thought no more of it, but then today he took a nap and I guess woke up in incredible pain in his neck, according to The Acrobat.  I walked by the weight room and saw Richard there trying to calm someone ( I though it was The Mentor), and so it had me worried.  I hope all is well. 

Movement was a little boiring.  Just some mat yoga and weirdness involving circular movement that made me really dizzy.  I am sleepy!

Coach James

Well my mom gave me a call last night to say that grampa was in bad shape, having had a stroke that left the right side of his body pretty much useless right now.  I sent my best wishes, and I hope that all is well.  I want to see him again since it has been a while since my last visit. 

I slept fitfully, so I guess I was not terribly rested today.  That might explain my lower level of energy.  In flexibility I was paired with The Acrobat who is really a bit of a masochist when it comes to flexibility.  He’s a real monkey man, too, hooting and hollering and singing the whole time.  Makes class fun, though.  At one point, Isabelle was watching me stretch The Acrobat who was going into some of his antics and she said “You have what it takes to be a good teacher, I think, mon ami.” 

So I took the opportunity to let her know that I was in fact interested in being a teacher for the preparatory kids.  By four o’clock today, she wanted me to start teaching for her on Fridays as a replacement for the acro teacher, who was also her.  I want to take the job, but it interferes with banquine, teeterboard, and my own conditioning.  My conditioning can be done on Saturdays, though, and banquine is definitely not looking for flyers (although they told me today that I am the only on in my class who could be a good porter).  Teeterboard is also cool, but I don’t know if I am the level of flyer that they are looking for.  We’ll see. 

I did the whole flexi class full out, and I think that my calf is finally well on the road to healing.  Dance was fun, but I find pirouettes very frustrating.  In the end out impro got cut short for a moment of silence.  I got to hear cutie The Flyer singing pop songs “forever, and ever, I give you my love” in her awesome French Canadian accent.  I said that all pop songs should be sung with that accent, as they would all be better, but I think she thought I was joking. 

Equilibe had no teacher, but I found out that the reason that Byamba has been away this week is that he got a job offer in Australia that would allow his wife to be with him, which this current job does not, but the school said that they would try harder, so he is staying, much to Sandrine and my relief!  I hit handstands, but I was sore, and they were not strong. 

Tumbling I did again, and I am slowly fixing my layout to be such that I arch over to get the power.  It is a slow process! 

Tramp was cool.  Caroline said that the way I look up when I want to extend for a trick is “cute.”  Heh heh.  I also do 2X the amount of conditioning she has for us.  It is easy for me, so I need to make that self-motivated commitment. 

Then I tried to be a barre rus flyer for the first time.  It was really cool, and not as hard as I thought.  The trick is to not search at all for balance, and to let the porters do all the work.  That’s really it!  When you do it right and close your eyes it feels like you are floating completely weightless!  This is really hard, though.  You need to center your weight just right and everything, with your feet completely parallel. 

The only hard part about being thrown is landing with your feet right in front of each other and in fourth position.  You can not anticipate where the bar is going to land because the porters are going to do all that work for you.  You need to be a lazy tumbler, never searching.  I hope they keep me on because I think I love that discipline! 

Teaching the kids was fun, even though I was just an observer  today.  There is a wide range of kids.  I need to come up with a lesson plan and learn all of the relevant French terms for gymnastics.  It will be some much needed income, though! 

A bunch of kids went to the walk for peace, but I don’t think I’m into things like that.  They are always a little forced, I think. 

I might go to a party tonight with The Clown and them at The Acrobat’s house.  I need to call.