Whirlwind Tour Part 3 – Montreal

Yesterday I woke up early to get to Montreal…  got there exactly on time for my lunch meeting with the guy from Circus Theatrical, my former boss at the Expo.  Now he gave me so much advice and tells me that he is about to quit his job, but no one knows it yet.  Strange to be changing levels like this.

Then, I go to school, and am surprized that everyone there really still remembers me and my number; even people I have never talked to.  They talk me into coming to school at 6 to see their Evaluation Concept shows, and I change my meeting schedule to make it work.

Meet with my friend from the SAT, talk a lot of stuff about Taiwan…  I feel I have a big responsibility, but don’t know how to take it on.

Go to school see the Evaluation Concepts, mostly the same shit that we used to do, but also some good stuff, see all my favorite teachers and a really good friend from a long time ago, and then meet my ex-girlfriend The Gymnast which is weird, of course.

To dinner now with my friend again to finish our business…  talked, laughed, then on to the house of one of my friends, a younger clown from school, where I stayed up til 4 talking about clowning and old times and changes…

Wake up at 8:50 to drive her to work and move out of Montreal, meet my SAT friend for dimsum at 12:00 and then my best and favorite teacher for two hour lunch at Club Sandwich, the old hang out, finish moving out, give away half my stuff to charity, and now trying to find one last friend before I leave… then 20 hours of driving straight to Minnesota to have a drink with my sister!

Risk of Burnout

So The Rocker was just named Artistic Director of the festival, we have actual dates, I am confirmed to go to Taiwan to support him at the end of June (which gives me a little more time to support the project in Japan), and that I will be in the show too, which makes me even more excited. On top of that, Cirque Human has agreed to be part of the festival.  Loving this business shit.  He’s finally the boss which is fun for a while…  until all the shit hits!

It is a strange thing.  When things start going well, you have to be quick enough to stay on top of all of it or you start to lose control of everything.  I’m nervous, for example, that The Rocker signed a deal with an arts management firm to manage both the production of the show and also any possible Taiwan Tour.  In other words, they are going to be doing roughly what Adco proposed to do for the Tokyo Tour; finding corporate sponsors in Taipei, etc.  If there ends up being a huge connection between the business ends in Taiwan and Tokyo might they just take over everything from me?  The Rocker understands and told me that it would be a good idea for me to connect with them to let them know what I’ve been working on in Japan:

I’ve been approaching the project from two different directions.  The first is the “Big Business” direction as “New Project Coordinator” for The Rocker.  I present the project to advertising and production contacts that I developed as Acrobatic Team Co-Manager at the Toyota Pavilion at the Universal Expo in Aichi, Japan in 2005.  So far they have shown interest in bringing this project to their clients as an advertising campaign for companies that are interested in associating with the “Circus Brand” in advance of Cirque Du Soleil’s 2008 Tokyo permanent show.  They see investing in the circus image and the associated “cool” early as a chance to get a head start now rather than play “catch-up” with Cirque-centered advertising monopoly later.

The other approach I have been taking I call the “grass-roots” approach, and is essentially taking on the role of a representative of The Rocker’s company as a small, internationally-minded, arts organization that is looking to produce a limited engagement but high-visibility show in Tokyo.  I have been working with a partner who has an impressive network of politicians, artists, arts organizations, and philanthropists, and who is very enthusiastic about helping this project come to Tokyo.  We are proceeding in a stepwise fashion, securing one part of the puzzle at a time.  We are trying to get good quotes on theater rental, local publicity costs, and trying to attract smaller companies and investors with the project on out own.

Both approaches are moving forward steadily, and I have a guarded optimism about our chances of bringing the show here in 2007.

On your side, is there any interest in helping to bring The Rocker’s show to Tokyo?  If so, what is the best way for us to pool our resources to work effectively and efficiently?

In any case, now that things are confirmed, casting and its associated drama is accelerating.  For example, The Rocker told me that he just learned that a competing circus director will be working with the circus school to open a circus show on the same day as our festival.  This is the same circus school that we were supposed to be working with for our show but The Rocker insisted on keeping first pick of their artists since, “HE WAS THERE FIRST!”.

The only question is if we can use the school’s rehearsal space or not.  One of their graduates is very excited about working with us to develop a Chinese “rock” circus and shared a video of the student’s personal work that is very interesting.  The Rocker also may be able to sign two straps artists who are former Cirque du Soleil artists.  If that happens we’re increasing our chances of success in Tokyo.

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Even more excited but I’m ever more aware of the risk of burnout.  I am working harder than ever…  somedays I crash so hard emotionally that I can barely open my eyes… other days, I am flying high…  it is like a sick, sick drug.  The only thing I can compare it to is the rush of being on stage!

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Leveling Up

Funny experience of the week: Reaching out to my former dance company and the company that hired me for the Expo project to see if

1) they would be willing to come to the Taiwan festival,

2) see if I can help them with developing their work in Japan and Taiwan, and

3) to see if they have any contacts here that they’d be willing to introduce me to.

Learning To Hustle

Email still not really running, I am just logging in at an internet station in Shinjuku to do business about two hours a day.  Christmas in Holland is up in the air as I need to decide if it would be better to focus my energies on Tokyo right now with some of the projects that are coming up.

As I’m thinking more seriously about trying to develop projects here in Tokyo I’ve had the chance to meet a few people who have expressed interest in helping me out.  Here they are:

The Producer: worked for a major advertising company and a major movie studio, also working on his own projects and starting his own production company.  Sort of all over the map, it is hard for me to get a handle on what he really does, but I know he directs and produces small-scale, but high visibility shows (at Disneyland, shopping centers, that kind of thing).  He studied in the us and is fed up with Japanese conservativism in the arts, wants to do cool LV circus-style shows, but doesn’t know how and doesn’t have the personnel or the money/power to do it alone.  He is supposed to be my partner if we win the bid for East Asian business development with Global Live Entertainment.  He’s well-connected in all the power circles of Japanese entertainment.  Good name card to have.

The Designer: works in an advertising company, as best as I can tell.  His company is small-name, but still manages to land good, high-profile events, like the premiere of Pirates of the Caribbean 2, rock videos, in addition to designing posters, flyers, etc.  He has talked to me a lot of times about wanting to produce a show, what would it take, etc, etc.  I think he is trying to approach his boss with a project idea, but is intimidated by learning how to producing a large acrobatic show in Japan.  He’s may just seem like a graphic designer, but the company is in a posh location and he’s interested in expanding his influence internationally but he lacks contacts in Europe, USA, etc.  I was thinking of exchanging contacts if it will help us secure venues here in Tokyo.  After showing him the kind of work that The Rocker’s done, what we have done together, and giving him some ideas of how we might be able to do with this company, he offered to make a mock advertising campaign for the show that will help explain the project to interested investors in Japan and Taiwan.  He would do this free of charge, and sell it to the numerous clients who pass through his office looking for ideas of things to do…

The Project Guy: a new contact in Japan.  He runs a small production firm, wants to produce shows internationally.  I might be approaching him about a job as an oversees contact manager.  I wonder what he will have to tell us.

Mr. Taipei: actually, an investor I met in Taipei.  Very wordly, owns a bunch of restaurants and lounges in Taipei…  barely know him, but had dinner with him at a party he invited me to.  He was interested in what i am trying to do in terms of produce local Asian shows.  I wonder if he might be interested in what we are doing with the Taiwanese circus school?  His business card mentions CEO of his own company, VP, Chinese/German culture office, polish culture and economic association, chairman of Taipei Poems Club…. among other things.

So I am talking about projects in a very very very “what if” fashion to all these people because I’m still not totally clear on what The Rocker and I can really do.  At its simplest, I’m imagining a well-publicized, limited run in a prominent, medium-sized venue in Tokyo.

Circus acrobats doing a tumbling trick at the National Circus School exterior show

Setting Records

The Gang has decided that the seven guys are going to start working on circus projects outside of class next year.   

Estaban had to leave the country due to visa problems and is replaced by his boyfriend Mario but he should be back by September.  Some people think that Mario is too tough, but thanks to him I have fixed my side summie, my standing back full, and I’ve been working rudi dismounts into the pit and backtucks off the wall from trampoline.  I trained at the place where Mario and Esteban’s work during the summer. 

Went to Boston and had a lot of fun seeing friends and doing karaoke.  My best friend from MIT is moving to the Southwest which was a bit of a surprise. 

My wrist is hurting a lot right now and I can’t do any handstands.  I did 31 pullups which is the new school record and I’m aiming to up that to 40 for next year.  I managed 60 pushups in a minute which I think is also pretty good.  The Clown and my juggling piece is getting pretty nice and locked in.  We’re going to hopefully perform it at a juggling convention that is coming up.  

Dance evaluation went surprisingly well, I hope, and we have the atelier presentation the week after this week.  This is the last week of classes and evaluations and then we have big evaluations coming the week after.

My roommate is back and now we have a new pregnant cat that hangs around.  Summer is here with 75, 80 degree weather.  It’s been really nice. 

The Clown and I are getting to be good friends and all of the guys in our class just got matching German submarine sailor haircuts which looks pretty funny.

It really sucks having my wrists not work, but I was able to do my splits without even warming up which was pretty exciting.  But I have my split, pike, center split evaluation tomorrow so hopefully my luck will hold out.

We had a second big working day for the outside show for the annual show and I think The Clown and I saw some of the same patterns as the evaluation concept – no real discipline or order until the camera was set up and then everyone just does all the tricks they know.  This was last Friday which was the first day I did a standing full, but I didn’t get it on camera.

Again it was just the guys who were doing things full-out while the girls were always spotting each other.  I’m getting to be better friends with The Aerialist.  I’m writing a show this summer with Tori and she’s asked me for some notes on how to get in shape for some acrobatic stuff since its so much harder to lift people if they don’t have strong cores.

I went to go see a dance show.  The first one was very physical and quirky with very good balance on the stage which was interesting because it was done in this big open warehouse with windows that weren’t covered up and you could see an apartment across the street where this woman was getting ready for bed with her boyfriend.  Funny seeing someone stripping outside while you’re watching a dance show.  The second one didn’t work so well – it was based on shocking violence and rape with a live DJ and heavy metal music, but the dance just wasn’t that good which was my main problem with it.  

After the show, the guys from school were messing around playing their quirky comic characters at the reception in this art and dance world event clowning around having problems in the men’s room, in the foyer, doing art dance numbers in the street and tripping all over themselves enjoying how when you trip and try to recover people just think that’s funny.  Two high columns, etc – fun to play with people who know how all this fits together.

Head Above Water

Just trying to keep my head above water because I didn’t get to bed until around 2:30 last night and had to get up at 7:30.  I am not sleeping well at all – wasn’t up late or anything i just couldn’t sleep.  I’m sleeping like an old person.  After a really good day of flexibility yesterday flexibility class was ok, not great, but everything keeps rolling. 

In dance we presented the 2×8 piece that The Hotshot and I did.  It wasn’t too bad but the music was faster than I remembered so we had to combine some of the things and cut some of the things which all worked out for the best in the end. 

I was thinking about skipping equilibre with Larissa based on what Isabelle had said about not doing extra work if you are tired, but in the end, i’m glad that i did because i got to do a three person high handstand column with The Clown and The Dreamer.  Byamba wasn’t there again today but Larissa also showed us some of the things that we’ll need to do and said that she wants Daniella to view our class at this evaluation. 

Acro and trampo were typical, and had equilibre with Byamba’s student whose girlfriend was a student at the school who was the victim of a car accident.  He gave me some things to think about when holding handstands against the wall like keeping your hips against the wall and not having your arm moving in space but rather moving your body relative to the arm while the arm stays completely parallel in space – that was helpful.  He also suggested that I not remove my finger when doing one arm drills on the canes. 

Then I did juggling with The Clown.  Both of our legs are really hurting because of movement, we think, so we didn’t do much with the hats but worked on our intro with the clubs.  Alex was back today and it was cool to see him around. 

The Contortionist wasn’t in dance class today because her boyfriend came back from Belgium yesterday and she was sure to tell me that they were up late “not sleeping.”  The Clown and I also talked about the personalities of The Tumbler’s unique Quebecois family.  

I really need to sleep today or I’ll just die tomorrow.  Sleep is really important but really hard for me to keep constant.

Car packed with all the equipment needed for an acrobatic circus streetshow

Hookups and Checkouts

Alright, lets get up to date:

Injury on trampoline due to hyperextension on bad vrie-dos landing.

Evaluations are absolutely harsh!

Movement my best class?

The Contortionist being nice and flirty with me.

The Trapezist interested in her old boyfriend?

The Artist hooked up with one of the upperclass girls?

One of the first years taking a dive (‘back injury’) in main-a-main.

Me dying and taking a sick day on Friday.

One of my recreational kids doing a header on a 1 ½ front without my permission.

Hellish recreational kids!

Me getting into honors flexibility “etirement.”

Moving into my new room in the apartment.

The American leaving for the Trapezium.

Another first year acting like he will follow suit.

German wheel girl needing to leave to take care of her ill mother.

First good column-a-trois.

My first time being the top of a column-a-trois.

Longest one-handed handstand today.

The Trapezist’s record is 5 sec – the competition is on!

Continual reinjury sucks!

Evaluation concept working okay, but some of the personalities make things hard.

The group confronted one of them who had missed more meetings than he has made, “I don’t give a fuck.”

Another one has only made two meetings so far.

That’s all I can remember.  One or two more updates coming up before resuming with dailies, I think.