Big Dreams And Self-Doubts

My life right now is made up of just three things:

Meetings. 

I have so many meetings – straight up business style, e.g.  suits and money – that is it.  Fucking crazy.

Training 

Training is the most humdrum side of the life, actually, me, alone, in a crappy municipal gym.  Sure, there is some nice scenery from time to time; the foreign hostesses like to come in on their breaks and use the step machines…  but I’m really just there as short a time as possible.  Get shit done and then get on with the other 20 hours of my day.

That said, my handstand number is really getting nice.  It helps to train outside of school and outside of a show.  Just to train and do the technique because it is what you do.

Still, I wish there was more space in japan though, to move and to run around and to dance like crazy movement style…  it is nice to take an hour a day to just do flexibility, though…  it is very calm.

Writing

This writing is just a vestige of the acting days… I still feel like someday i am going to spit something out onto a piece of paper that might make someone smile or change their mind about something, and so I keep at it.  Think of it as the other half of the training.

Planning and uncertainty

Next year is taking form so much more slowly than last year… it takes a year to get anything confirmed, and I am just getting in on the ground floor of this brand-new building, so there is all this uncertainty and confusion combined with the hopeful feeling that I might be able to do something new with this place…

I guess if Taiwan is the plan, I’ll be here until mid-January, and then I’ll need to find something until March.  I was hoping to be in the States soon, after all… I am really feeling like I need a roadtrip.  it is hard to take one of those when you are on an island that is smaller than California.  And you don’t have a car.  Maybe I’ll take some time to put this one-man show together that I have been working on the last couple of months…  It could be really small, like 40 minutes, I think, but I could do it in my hometown with some other artists in the show and split the money…  just to get out of this business mode that I have been in the last six weeks.

Lethargy And Paralysis

Lethargy has become the rule of the road for me now.  What road?  The road that winds me through the life that I no longer feel in control of.  I am lost now, and free at the same time.  I feel and see my body wasting away, unfed by the nutrients or the exercise that they are so used to.  At the same time, what it has for the first time in many years, is rest.  But it is so frustrating to see the work that went into keeping my body in shape to do what it needed to do, and to see that after just a bit of loss of focus, it can fall around me like a suit that fits too loosely…

The answer, of course, is fanatical dedication to a new regimen, one that dictates fatigue as being roughly necessary to the process of improvement.

And where, in all of this, does the notion of fairness or honesty to the people around me, specifically, those people who care about me or who wonder where I have disappeared to, what it is that I am doing?  Where is the idea of a narrative, of a character?  How do we know if we have an idea of genius or just one of stark convenience… maybe no one has ever done something like this simply because the idea is too damned pedestrian; too damned boring.

So this is my pledge to myself…

I will be at the gym for 4 hours a day, starting tomorrow.  I will leave the house before noon in order to do it.

I will email everyone on my list.

I will take this as a profound and deep failure on my part if I am unable to carry out these simple pledges to myself.

There will be no game-playing, there will be no wasting of time.  I will eat when I am not hungry, and I will drink when I am not thirsty.  I will take my vitamins, and I will write three thousand words a day because I claim to be an artist, an acrobat, and I need to take such things seriously!

Perhaps it is time to put things into perspective, perhaps it is time to take matters in hand.

I will be tired, I will be unhappy, and I will be bored, but I will have some sense of necessity in my life.

I remember being at a Famous Amos stand in the subway mall of Taipei and hearing a perhaps over-enthusiastic manager of the tiny cart remarking to my companion something about something that made her mention the fact that she had lived in Africa.  He says that life is simple there.  She says, “Yeah, real simple.  People’s kids dying all the time…”  he doesn’t understand her English.  He pauses.  He smiles and says in Taiwan, people have lots of heart attacks.  She seems to see his point.  I don’t.  but I don’t see hers either.

I agree that the world is a messed-up place, and I am the first agree that we need to do something about it, but at the same time, I think that we need to accept these little injustices without drama for the time being.  People die more in some countries than other.  Of course, looking at these things from a humanistic perspective gives us a lot of pause, but at the same time, we need to have the option, and only the option, of looking at it in a more detached way.

I need to write an email to The Contortionist now, and in it I need to include a white lie.  It is about why I did not email her last night as I am trying to email her every night.  I will tell her that my roommate suddenly fell ill and my other roommate and I had to take her to the doctor’s office.  That is not a lie, that is really quite true, but we did that in the morning.  The evening, she was still healthy, and we engaged in wine drinking and general revelry until the wee hours, and that was why I did not email my girlfriend.

I don’t know exactly what it takes to have a girlfriend in the world any more, at least when you are living outside the norms of a regular address, a phone that works, and a group of friends that you can disappear into.  Will I miss this instability if I am ever to actually sit down and have a more stable life?  Will that life be just as stifling and soul-killing as this one is feeling for me?  Maybe the world itself is a stifling one, and this sense of despair that I am feeling is just some sort of metaphysical entropy, and it is exactly this sort of decay that we need to steel ourselves against to keep living as “beings,” and not as “beens.”

I want to meet my future head-on, standing straight and tall against the winds, not feeling like I need to destroy the city of Tokyo with an earthquake just to feel better about my writing.

What are the balls that are in the air right now?  A modelling agency that is not responding to my numerous emails, a job from Adco that may or may not have me exploring the corporate side of entertainment, a job offer from a man that I met at a Lithuanian film festival who may or may not be interested in engaging me in a job that has me once again performing acrobatics for Toyota, of all possible clients…  I have my number itself, which comes and goes in terms of how viable it seems, I have a possible grant which can take me possibly to Mongolia, to Bulgaria, to Lithuania, if my contact there ever decides to write me back.  I have the idea to teach something at my old university, but so many of these little attempts keep coming back faced with a wall of white, insurmountable silence.  Silence in the form of unanswered emails.   Makes me realize exactly why people need phones and face to face in the real world these day.

I need to make handstand blocks, I need to make new DVD’s I need to write emails, I need to train, I need to feel a zest for life and to feel that sort of poetic cloud that can sometimes well up and swallow my head whole.

I think that it comes from new environments, though, and what are my new environments now?  There seem to be none.

Handstands, ironically enough, is a discipline that requires stability in more ways that simply on your hands, inverted.  We also need the structure in our lives to fit in a bit of training here or there.  Once the number exists, we can run through it once a day in an hour, given that we have the space and the discipline, but once the technique falls by the wayside, you are trying to work your way up a hill… I guess I really need to focus my training now on the number and them concern myself with training later.

This is the way to go, I guess.

But god, it would be nice to look at myself in a mirror naked again and like what I see.  What I see right now is mediocracy at best.

I feel forgotten, like a rocket that burned brightly, arcing over a hill where no one can see it anymore, and even less people care.  I like the notion of a journey, and I like certain images in my writing, but in the end if I cannot harness it all into a tale of some sort, if I cannot craft what I am writing into a format that someone else would want to read, I am lost.  Floating in space.

Circus acrobat in a one armed handstand

Killing The Creative Impulse

Is there something about training in a physical art like handstands that kills the creative impulse?

Since returning to intensive training, I feel no creative drive. 

I remember that when i was in circus school, it was similar; I was really motivated to train handstands and acrobatics, but couldn’t focus on strictly creative pursuits; even reading was a chore…

It seems so strange that after one of the most creatively stimulating summers of my life, it has been so abruptly truncated by something as important to me as handstand training!

Circus school graduates shooting promotional images

Writing A Circus Act Part 2

it is so warm out today.  i try to keep my room in shadow so that i can keep working, but it is oppressive.  but what can i do.  i need to work.  listened to over 10 hours of music today just trying to get an idea of what i’m looking for in my act.  

thought a little bit more about my costume.  i think that for at least a little while i am going to talk about all the equilibre numbers i saw this week and what my impression of them has been.   

pretty much as soon as they get on the canes, they are in preparation to get into the trick, and the trick itself is all there is to look at. 

there is a real sense of solidity and rigidness in all of the tricks. what can i do to preserve fluidity even in the held positions? 

flexibility is a major problem for me, and i need to force myself to increase it all the time, wherever and whenever.  active flexibility in particular so that i can move that more freely and controlled in the extreme positions.  i think that it is extreme, impossible looking positions that really work.

i have been playing with the idea of using live music in my act, either solo or in accompaniment with the music that i choose.  but I don’t see how to make it work yet. 

i need to make all transitions between dance and acro and handstands to be absolutely seamless.  a lot of conditioning is involved in that. 

let’s see.  there are three weeks in september, and 10 after that, i think, to work.  so i’m looking at maybe 12 for now.  the most important part for me to concentrate on in the next six week is strictly the non-handstand part of the act.  in the meantime, i will be working with byamba on the handstand technique, so i want to have music selection done as soon as possible.  i think that by the end of next weekend i need to have two minutes of music selected for the evaluation concept presentation.   

the school cabaret is coming up soon as well. 

first of all, it is a good exercise because I cannot rely too heavily on circus arts.  everyone at the school already knows what we can all do.  what can i bring to a circus audience from outside of my circus experience?  how can i involve music and theater, in other words.  the theme is “communication.”  maybe i want to have text interspersed with music?  a character that is me?  who knows.  there is a lot to think about.  ultimately, i want to express myself in a more honest way than i ever have on stage.  that will be the real task, i think.  to not be the performer, the musician, but to really be me, travelling acrobat, on stage, full of vulnerability and honest.  if i can achieve that, well, that’s something that i’ll want to preserve in my act as well.  i think that i am most interested in seeing performers who are not acting honestly, but who really are there, present and full-on there.

Program Notes: A Big Mess Of Circus, Physical Theatre, And Dance

thanks for coming to the show. 

i have spent the last nine months training at the circus school in montreal, and am lucky enough to be back this summer to perform for all of you.  in writing the show, our primary focus was to combine circus skills and theatrical presentation to tell a story or three. 

this proved to be a difficult task. 

the theme of the show is time, or, more specifically, what it means to have all the time in the world or to realize that within the finite boundaries of every human life writhe an infinite number of could-be-experienced experiences. 

it might have been easier write a raucously rollicking hijinks-filled love narrative. 

but we chose time, and dove right in.

we brought the show from concept to stage in about 5 months, only the last 4 weeks of which were spend in the same place as the other.  the creative process included free writings, experimentation, and analysis of other literary works. 

along the way, we were fortunate enough to receive help and guidance from a number of people in the audience tonight who helped us stage this piece. 

The greatest challenge was balancing a message with entertainment without getting crushed by heavy-handed presentation.  sometimes it was hard.  heavy hands are heavy.

please enjoy the show, and tell us what you think about it afterwards.  it was quite a journey, but we learned so much by taking it.

what are we looking at, exactly?

We’ve incorporated many circus disciplines into this show. 

ACROBATICS 

in coming up with a short acrobatics act for this years show, i tried to avoid the repertoire of purely gymnastics skills and to instead present flowing, eccentric, elements. 

HAND-TO-HAND 

hand-to-hand is usually a duo act that requires a high level of concentration and strength, and can be an exhibition of static poses, a series of dynamic throws and catches, or any mixture thereof.  we tried to present simple hand-to-hand figures in interesting ways to set up a distinctive mood of disconnectedness. 

CLOWN 

circus school exposes you to a wide variety of clowning styles, may of which we tried to include in this show in search of common ground between slapstick, buffoon, and realistic clowns.   

STRAPS 

straps is traditionally performed with a high ceiling and with a team of riggers on a pulley line that help to change the height of the performer above the stage.  we had none of this at our disposal.  as a result, we focused on what we could do at lower heights while still creating an illusion of height and flight. 

HANDBALANCING

handbalancing is my major at the school, and pursuing it is a bit like trying to scale a steep mountain.  the rewards are few and far between and you never get anywhere quite as fast as you think you will.  if you rest for a second, there is no guarantee that you will ever make it to the top. 

on the other hand, even if you hike relentlessly you may never make it either.  there is a definite physical component to handbalancing, but the mental side of the discipline is what will make or break you.

THE STORIES:

PREDATOR AND PREY: BUGS

predator and prey are archetypes.  i think.  in our play there is a fly and there is a spider.  the spider wants to eat, and the fly wants to live.  the spider also does some acrobatics.  spiders and flies have been locked in their microcosmic struggle since they were invented — so what effect does an eons-long conflict have on the combatants?

TRAVELERS: THE TETHEREDS 

travelers are archetypes.  not much as bugs, but bugs set up a hard act to follow in the archetype department.  the central idea is that life is an infinitely number series of moments along a journey –  so what happens if you get lost?  can you get lost in there is no end to your journey to begin with?  well at least you can connect with people along the way.

TWO PEOPLE LIVING IN DOWNTOWN APARTMENTS JUST OUTSIDE OF TIME WHO NEVER MEET BUT CAN SOMEHOW AFFECT EACH OTHER THROUGH AN INPERCEPTIBLE EMOTIONAL ETHER

two people living in downtown apartments just outside of time who never meet but can somehow affect each other through an imperceptible emotional ether are archetypes.  located just between bugs and travelers.  i think.  two characters living their lives on different time scales like sloths versus hummingbirds.  are hummingbirds able to see a sloth’s movements?  can sloths appreciate the movement of a hummingbird’s wings?  

Circus clowns at the National Circus School of Montreal's annual show

Things That Are Interesting After 7 Months Of Circus School

years of failure at a trick can be fixed by a russian coach telling you ‘do it with no falling.  is much more beautiful for the public that way.’

after you control your fear, anything is possible.

there is nothing that is physically difficult in acrobatics.

flexibility is the most important thing in the world.

juggling does not suck.

unicycle does.

if you do a trick correctly the first time, you will never, ever, ever forget how it is done.

there is no expectations on a person that cannot be raised by their success.

sometimes, you are right.

sometimes, you even know it.

a one-armed handstand is just holding yourself up with one hand.

a standing full twisting back somersault is just jumping really high, arching your body, kicking yourself in the chest with your knees, hugging yourself while looking over your shoulder, and then straightening out.

strength is the most important thing in the world.

if you feel the responsibility that goes along with holding someone over your head and then throwing them for a back flip, there is no way that you will let them fall.

if someone you trust tells you that you can do something you have never done, they are right.  So do it.

charisma is the most important thing in the world.

if skill is developed by learning, then creativity is developed by playing.

people like seeing you do something you enjoy more than they like seeing something that is difficult.

show an acrobat a skill they have never seen and they will try it.  if they fail, they will fall in a funny way.

when a russian tells you to do a double back salto from a wall, do it. 

even if he is kidding.

sleep is the most important thing in the world.

good night!

 

Circus artists in the National Circus School of Montreal's end of year show

Dead Cat And Monkey Style

All day I think about things that I want talk about and when I get here at night I can never remember it. 

Byamba was back and had a really nice couple of hours of handstands interrupted by a trip back home to pick up rice, which I had forgotten, whereupon I discovered that our cat is dead.  Probably sometime two nights ago.  It looks like he was hit by a car.  Poor guy.  Dead.   

Today I thought it would be fun to do equilibre all day, doing handstands against the wall, feeling the position, and sliding easily into one arm with legs together, one arm with legs apart, etc.  Felt good.  I held about 2-3 seconds on my right side in one arm with legs together and on my left side with legs apart. 

I saw a tape that Larissa had brought me of the Russian circus school.  Interesting to see them, their technique is really really really good despite some weird artistic stuff.  Some great Chinese pole kids from China were on there and rolla bolla acts.  Two of us in the first year train together and seem to have a natural equilibre mindset.  Another first year trains a lot with us, but has a much more relaxed mindset – this seems to make a big difference in speed of progress. 

I only did aerial cradle today and Alex had a new move for us which he called “monkey style” but which The Clown and I are calling “monkey sex” because basically on the upswing in front I pull up on his arms, grab his body, and push off into a back somersault.  Alex says we can do it without the line if we want and that it’s not hard.  It was fun but The Clown kneed me or hit his head into my groin like 4 times today, which you can imagine felt great. 

Juggling was normal and in hand to hand I got to be a flyer again; The Clown is glad to work with me because I’m not afraid to fall and don’t panic. 

I’m definitely slipping into more of a morning schedule, I woke up around 5 and went back to sleep but still woke up at a reasonable hour without an alarm clock.  Going to bed at around 9:30 or 10 at night.  

I really need to start writing things down during the day when they seem interesting so I have more to write about at night!