Archive for March, 2012

So, I’m not really big on blogging all the time. I’ll Tweet and post on Facebook pretty often (maybe too often for the good of my productivity). But now, I kinda felt the need to write about  something that turned out to be a pretty interesting moment.

I’ve been taking trapeze classes at Esh Aerial Arts in Cambridge, MA for a while, now. There are a lot of reasons why I, at 47, took up the trapeze. I won’t go into them all, but I will say that two of the main reasons are that I wanted something new with which to strengthen parts of my body that have been weakened by injuries over the years (I’ve been lifting weights all my life, and hefting barbells just wasn’t fixing what had been smashed up, ripped, torn and broken) and I wanted to confront a fear of heights that I can trace back to when I fell out of a tree as a kid, crunching into every branch at contortionist angles on the way down and smacking onto concrete with a sound like that of an Atlantic sturgeon being euthanized with a cricket bat.

Me in the middle of a Straddle Up move onto the lyra. I think my feet are in the wrong position. Oh, well....

The recent incident I’m writing about now isn’t really about me. It really says a lot more about my amazing trapeze instructor Rachel Stewart and the talent of my friend RiN Waigand, a brilliant photographer who was in town visiting last week.

I'm doing the Arabesque on the trapeze here, in which you have to pull away one of the ropes around your head as you brace against it. By the way, Esh isn't this dark. RiN used a nifty exposure to cast a lot of cool shadow.

RiN came with me to Rachel’s trapeze class, and it really is a confluence of good fortune that she was in town, that she came to this particular class, and that she he had her camera with her.

Balancing on the trapeze in a standing position.

Up to this point, I’ve been doing trapeze as something physical. Something to fix and strengthen my body in addition to weightlifting, riding my mountain bike, and all the other jock stuff I do. As I gained more confidence on the trapeze and the lyra (a big metal hoop hung from the ceiling on which aerialists perform), I beat down my fear of heights. I love the circus skills I’ve been gaining. Love the discipline and the focus. Rachel’s a great teacher, and so are the other people at Esh who have coached me, given me pointers and encouragement. I love the art form of trapeze. But I never considered the art form to be mine.

But last week…

…RiN managed to capture a turning point.

Rachel had just taught me a  move called the Iron Cross, which is done on the lyra by wrapping your arms around the canvas-covered chains supporting the lyra from the ceiling and extending your lower body out at an angle, with your feet off the lyra, so that you are holding yourself off the ground using only your arm strength and core strength. Your body from the shoulders down feels free from gravity, and you can move along all these amazing axes in space and for the first time, in that very moment, I felt… “Holy shit! I can actually express myself with trapeze!” This was the very moment that I realized maybe, just maybe, trapeze can some day be an art form I can use.

Here are the pics that RiN snapped of that moment.

I think I've just gone airborne off the lyra.

There was this sudden sense that I could have a new relationship with gravity, and with how I could locate my body in space.

I've turned a few degrees here.

Rachel says that the Iron Cross is the move that is the most like flying. And yes, as a lifelong comic book geek, there was this weird, goofy exhilaration I felt for a second or two that I was doing something kinda superhero-ish.

Me learning how to move along new axes while doing the Iron Cross. I'm trying to control my breathing, hence the look on my face.

I’ve done the Iron Cross a few more times on the lyra since this moment. And it’s been pretty great each time since. But this was… y’know… the moment. Just felt a need to share it. Thanks for sharing it with me. And thanks go out to Rachel for being such a great teacher and to RiN for letting me post these pics.