Archive for Memory Lane

More than Just Staying Alive

   So we have found the “one” to hang on for the rest of our acrobatic lives and we have discovered how to not kill them.  As Miss Jackson says at the end of Miss You Much: “That’s the end? No!”

 

Now, how do we move beyond mere toleration of each other into enthusiasm that we can annoy people at cocktail parties with?

This is very serious, people!

This is very serious, people!

After Laura and I went to therapy, I had an epiphany. We were so busy trying to keep up with the business, writing emails, getting choreography done, and marketing,  that we weren’t having any fun at all.  The crazy part is that we are in the circus, for f***’s sake! How is it even possible to hate it? We aren’t surgeons or hedge fund managers. There is no one scowling over our desks either. Circus isn’t even recognized as a fine art form. How did it all get so SERIOUS?

     The ridiculous part is that you can take yourself too seriously even if you are a clown (reason #281 why many clowns deal with chronic depression, but angry clowns are another blog).  If all you are doing is making art with a capital F or killing yourselves on Linked In, etc   you are going to start resenting the business and each other. The pressure just starts to build. You might as well be making some real cash if you are going to spend your time just checking things off an endless list and getting uptight about it.
   Getting perspective on your work and making sure circus doesn’t become a circus is one part. The other part of a long-lasting, good, productive partnership is loving on your partner. You are going to spend more time with this partner than the one you have sex with, so you might as well treat this relationship with as much care.

 

Thriv-al techniques:

 

 1.You need a sense of humor. 

Sometimes you have to explore viking hats

Sometimes you have to explore viking hats.

Pretty much every situation has a ridiculous side, if you can see it and point it out, then you win. Also, a lot of conflict can be diffused if you can point out how silly it really is.

 

2. Do stuff for fun not just gigs.  
If you want to explore your inner hamster or what it would be like to wear top hats for an entire trapeze piece, then you should go for it. Who cares if no one would ever want to pay to see it. Force some of your friends to watch. That’s what they are there for. You will have to go see their stupid play or beat poetry at some point. Take advantage.

 

 

3.Don’t expect your partner to fulfill every need.
If your partner is not interested in something you are, don’t just scuffle your feet and complain, go work on that thing with someone else. As long as you you don’t sneak around (let’s face it rehearsal places are limited, you’ll get found out) and assure your partner that they aren’t being replaced entirely, they should understand.

 

Laura exploring a different side.

Laura exploring a different side.

 

4. Along those lines, try skills that you don’t perform. If you are a serious handbalancer, maybe try some rola bola.  If you contort, change it up with some hula hoops. Or maybe just pick up the ukelele (except if you live in Williamsburg, Brooklyn because that would be redundant). Whatever you do, just mix it up with something that is pure fun, that you are going to enjoy being a beginner at again.

 

5. Do something with your partner that isn’t business related.
You don’t have to hang out all the time, but go see other circus shows together, or have dinner here and there. Just have a date night once in a while.

 

6. Write each other love notes.
Okay, I realize this could cause some scoffing among the straight males. However, it could be as simple as, “Hey, bro, thanks for putting up with me.”  Mainly, let the other person know you appreciate them. It also helps you look at their positive sides. As humans, we have a tendency to look at the problems and ignore everything that is working well. By expressing what is working, you are forced into seeing the whole picture.

 

7. Give a gift.  Even just the thought counts.  
When we were on tour, our favorite game was, “If I had my wallet, I would buy you…” And it was always things like vanilla scented dream catchers and light-up stuffed mousse heads, basically complete crap that you would never want in your house.  But it is the thought that counts….
Hey wait a minute!!!

 

As always, if you have stuff to add to this, please do!!

Girlfight! How to Reduce the Bloodshed

I know you have been waiting for the real-housewives-hair-pulling-name-calling-drag-‘er-through-the-mud! installment in this series. So here you go!!

Here are some calm and clear ways to resolve any conflict without drama.

   Just kidding, that is not only impractical but utterly boring. If you are in a partnership and aren’t having any fights, congratulations!!  You have either only been together just a few months, your partner is your imaginary friend (making aerial work difficult), or you don’t have long to live.  But work together long enough, see each other often enough, and you are going to fight. That is all there is to it. Knowing that, you might as well learn to expect it and deal with it (and maybe learn the sleeper hold).

What’s fun about fighting in the circus is how public it is.  Our rehearsal space is a giant warehouse where even the office area is exposed. Laura and I are so used to airing our dirty laundry in public that the front desk started to place bets on who would cry first.

The First Time We Considered Divorce

We’d only done one act together at that point, but we had invested a year of our lives in it. The honeymoon, however, was decidedly over. We were in the “you are a much bigger bitch than I thought you were” phase. We postured. We threatened. It got so bad we almost started writing a contract.   But then a cold reality hit us hard.  Where the hell were we going to find another redhead? We’d have to work it out for the sake of a good brand.

When You start Playing Darts with Each Other’s Headshots, You Might Need some Professional Help.

The second time we almost skidded into splitsville was after we’d been touring together for a few months. We were living together,

A recreation of how I appeared in one of Laura's dreams.

A recreation of how I appeared in one of Laura’s dreams.

sleeping together, singing 99 bottles on the bus together, eating together, exercising together, and performing together. 24/7 of suffocating togetherness across the Midwest, Greece, India, and Portugal.  We got to the end of that run and we realized we needed therapy, or somebody wasn’t going to make it. And well, hell, we figured we might as well entertain others in the process and threw in a camera crew.  I’d like to say it was entirely our dogged determination to make it work that got us through, but the ten minutes of fame helped.

I’m sure different partnerships have come up with different rules that work for them, but here are some rules we came up with to minimize the bloodshed:

1.Do not perform mad.

Do I really want someone who at that moment would like to see me dead, holding me by one foot 20 feet up?

2. Do not tear apart a performance right after it has happened.

If something was really not good, we’d remember it the next day. If not, probably not worth mentioning. Rehashing every little detail is just not worth it.

3. No Discussing Real Issues by Email

If some issue starts to arise and digital words start to get tense, we have a policy that we must call the other person immediately and talk it out. Emails are the absolute worst way to discuss anything important. Tone is so easily misconstrued.  Also, constructing perfectly worded ones is a huge waste of time. We just get on the horn and say what needs to be said.

4. Give yourselves a Time Out when Necessary

If it helps to stick your nose in a corner, then by all means go for it. But when things get heated, it is important to press pause. It gives us a moment to stop blaming the other person for everything and just feel what each of us feels so we can discuss stuff perhaps a little more calmly.

5. Figure out Who is Good at What and Separate Tasks

We both don’t have to be good at everything. Find the things that each of you like to do and are good at and divide them up. Then respect what each of you contribute.

6. Respect your Coordinated Creative Process.

Some moves one of us may have worked out perfectly in bed, but in the studio, we realize they are physically impossible. Other moves it just takes a while to get. Time pressures sometimes make it hard to decide what to pursue and what to let go of. While on one hand, we don’t want waste precious rehearsal time, on the other,  we want to give each other a chance to explore new ideas.

7. Do Not Bring up Old Shit.

My first and only attempt at taking cheese from Laura in Paris

My first and only attempt at taking cheese from Laura in Paris

We never start a sentence with “You Always..”.  That is the red flag that only makes the angry bull come running. We try to watch out for stories about ourselves and the other person. If you think that you are the one who makes all the sacrifices or are the only one who has it together or the only one who cares about the act or the only one who has any creativity at all?!- chances are you’ve made up some story in which you are the hero and the other person the villain. As fun as it is to feel superior, you may not really be seeing the whole story.

8.Do not Get between Laura and her Food

We all have our things and this was one I learned quickly.

9. Do Not Speak Before Coffee.

 

As always, Please share with us any rules you might have or helpful tips you have found in dealing with your circus significant other.

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly: How to Choose a Trapeze Partner

February 26, 2013 Comments Off on The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly: How to Choose a Trapeze Partner Memory Lane, Uncategorized, Working in Circus

I’d like to say that Laura and I conducted long, well thought out interviews with each other before joining forces, discussing in depth our views on commitment, marketing, and Febreze.  In reality, it happened something like this:

Ring ring, ring, ring, ring..”Hello?” (Remember when we only had home phones?! Yes, that’s how old we are, shut up.)

Anyway, “Hello?”

“Hi, this is Laura, the other redhead you performed with last night. Join me or I break your legs.”

“Wow, I’m flattered. How does Monday look?”

No prenup was signed, no references called, just a not so vague threat of violence and it was love at last. Some might tell you to sign a contract with your potential partner and to work out who gets the costumes and the trapeze if one runs away with the circus. That is probably the most prudent thing to do, but I honestly don’t know that it will lead to a successful partnership. Maybe we just got lucky, but we’ve never had a contract, nor do we plan to.  I like knowing that we have enough faith in our communication to say honest if awful things to each other in strained tones, then hug it out without fear that one of us will empty the coffers and make a run for the border (although truthfully, our coffers might get you a nice dinner in Texas, but doubtful you’d have enough gas to actual get to Mexico).

Can you make it work if the two of you are completely different people?

Yes and no. on the surface, Laura and I are very different. She’s dramatic, I’m cool-headed. She’s a Christian, I’m a Yogi. She comes from theatre, I come from modern dance. She’s from Carolina, I’m from California. You get the idea.  At the end of the day, none of that stuff matters.  Here is what is important to us: commitment, honesty, sense of humor, sense of priorities (cup o’ joes before throws) and a flexible schedule. All the rest can be negotiated.

*An Aside on Drugs and Alcohol. 

If you are Russian, skip this section because all bets are off for you people. Russians can drink vodka all night and it only makes them more precise.  Freaks.

However, nobody in the rest of the world actually has those abilities. They only think they do. So if you aren’t Russian (grandmothers don’t count) and neither is your partner, you will have to keep it in check.  If your significant aerial other is doing blow off a someone’s belly at 4 am and showing up to rehearse at 10 am, you might not get a lot done.  Or worse yet someone gets bounced on their head which isn’t a head’s general purpose.

*Okay, thank you Nancy Reagan for that uplifting message. 

The good news is that the honeymoon period where you think you’ve found the best partner in the entire world lasts exactly a minute and a half. A few nights in the middle of Indiana in a hotel room that smells like your grandmother’s nightgown and you should find out pretty quickly if you have what it takes not to kill each other in your sleep.

Use the first few rehearsals as a way to feel each other out.

You never know what they are into until you try each other out.

You never know what they are into until you try each other out.

Have plenty of mats underneath you and listen to your gut. Your life is quite literally (and I do mean literally) in each other’s hands.  Notice how your partner reacts to your fears and your creative ideas. Start with one act and make it really good. Don’t invest a huge amount in costumes and websites until you think it is going to work. Figure out you work together, who is in charge of what. Time and experience will only make you better, but it is worth taking some time to refine your process. Laura and I worked on our first act every day for about a year.  It is the one that we have also performed the most and remains probably our best act both choreographically and in performance quality.

Well, Aren’t You Two Just so Awesome?    Wait until next week, when things get down and dirty. See, this is better than Jersey Shore.

Our First Act:

 

Circus Duos: The prurient details (you think Snooki’s dramatic!) Part One

February 19, 2013 Comments Off on Circus Duos: The prurient details (you think Snooki’s dramatic!) Part One Memory Lane, Uncategorized, Working in Circus

“Mawage is wot bwings us togeder tooday. That dweam wifin a dweam.”

It's a delicate balance

It’s a delicate balance

If you don’t know where the above quote is from then stop reading. This content is for mature audiences only.

When I got married, I wasn’t a nervous bride.  I figured there was just no way marriage could be harder or less rewarding than having a trapeze partner. In fact, I feel extremely lucky that I got to exorcise (and exercise!) all my relationship demons first, before unleashing them on my husband.  My aerial partner, Laura, and I have endured bad coffee, missed catches, single beds, sub-zero temperatures, oxygen deprivation, and a missing trapeze.  After ten years, we know each other’s pushable buttons and smelly armpits (as well as other bits) intimately.

I don’t know the stats, but I would guess the success rate of circus duos is probably on par with the success rate of marriage in LA.  The two of you have to be compatible on so many levels that it is not surprising that most only last one to two Kardashians (an excellent marital unit of measure, thanks Robert!).  Although, truth be told, deciding to go separate ways dramatically increases the probability of ending up with a two-year binding Cirque du Soleil contract together. Seen it happen.

Staying Together for the Act’s Sake

There is a lot you endure.

There is a lot you endure.

However, for every split, there is a dysfunctional duo that stays together for the sake of the act.  When we were performing for a casino in Portugal, there was a hand balancing duo (together for 20 years!) that regularly missed their curtain call, because they spent the time after their act screaming at each other in Russian backstage.
We’ve even seen identical twins who had absolutely everything going for them, youth, looks, lickable abs (we tested them), sunny dispositions, and oodles of talent skid to dissolution. Everyone wanted to hire them, and yet they couldn’t hack it together for more than a couple of years! For the love of Pete, these two are the same genetic material. You’d think you could avoid fighting with yourself. Sigh… but no.
In order for a duo to make it, so many pieces have to fall in place. You have to want the same things, see a future together, have aligned priorities, look aesthetically balanced, see eye to eye creatively, and approach the business side similarly. You each also have to have a fairly large arsenal of fart jokes handy.
There were times that Laura and I really thought we might be getting a divorce, then the thought of building a new website sobered us up right quick.  No, seriously…We did what any savvy couple in trouble does, we whored out our innermost feelings to national television (aren’t you proud, Mom!)
See below:

Not content with one medium, our conflicts are also featured in The Blame Game by Ben Dattner (there is way more than us in there!).  People who recognize us in the street are often surprised to hear we are still living the dream. And we are. Our relationship is stronger than ever. I have a cute mug with pictures on it as well as a YouTube video made just for me to prove it.

Two of a Kind

Two of a Kind

In the next few weeks we will explore these topics:

Why and How to Choose a Partner and Start a Partnership

How to Fight with Minimal Bloodshed

How to Thrive and Keep the Romance Alive

Please share with us any crazy stories about your partnership or partnerships you’ve witnessed.

The Dark Secret of The Trapeze World that No One Dares to Talk About

Double Trapeze

Double Trapeze

I’ve seen some great discussion lately about drops and aerial tricks that might be too dangerous to teach.  While these discussions are important, there is a danger out there that all professionals know about, but is rarely discussed or brought out in the open. You certainly can’t find any youtube videos showing the fails either.  You don’t believe until it happens to you. We are talking about the very real danger of one particular move on the trapeze which results in THE LOSS OF YOUR PANTS.

We aren’t just talking about your pants kind of sliding off your body quickly and fixed with a hike back up. Not a little accidental plumber butt. We are talking about exploding out of your pants in a violent and awkward fashion.  Trapeze artists, you know what tricks I’m referring to:  the infamous duo “roll around the bar” and solo “hip circles”.  The moves are similar to each other in that they require you to push your pelvis into the bar and circle many times quickly around it. The move done successfully is featured here.

  Why do you sickos keep doing this trick?

We don’t avoid this trick because, well, it brings the house down. Let’s face it, for us applause hounds, people thinking you can defy gravity is worth the possibility of little gluteal cleft exposure.

  Three walks down Memory Lane

I have been fortunate enough to experience this living nightmare on not one, but three occasions. My first initiation was when I just began trapeze

Not this move either!

Not this move either!

lessons. I had done the trick before but was still not entirely familiar with its unparalleled ability to make the world snicker. I was at Chelsea Piers in Manhattan, a large open space in which trapeze, rock climbing, and gymnastics are taught. I was taking my private lesson in the evening when it was at its busiest. I started my hip circles when I heard a large rip. I knew to hold on, but soon realized I was dangling from knees by my leggings with the elastic waist band still around my waist and nothing in between. I think someone catapulted off the rock climbing wall. My trapeze teacher came running over to me and tried to toss me her sweater to cover my bare ass hanging ten feet up. Add to the awkwardness my general lack of hand-eye coordination as I attempted to catch in a desperate and ineffective manner, the sleeve of the sweater she was repeatedly trying to throw me. What kept me sane was the absolute conviction that my alarm was going to go off soon. My trapeze career suffered a minor setback as I didn’t return to class for a solid month.

The second time was with my partner, Laura. We were practicing the duo roll around the bar trick at our rehearsal space (SLAM in Williamsburg). What happens with this move is that you both have to press your pelvises to the bar in order to get a clean, fast motion.   That fateful day, we might have been trying to make the move even tighter and cleaner, or it may have been a little humid, or my leggings may have just been a little too old. Whatever the magical combination, Laura and I ended up with our hoohaws entangled and one cheek exposed as a group of five-year olds marched in for their acrobatic class. Five-year-olds can’t even say the word “underpants” without giggling.

The worst part is that you don’t get to just flush red and run for cover. No, you get to dangle while begging someone to lower the truss down. Then another year and a half goes by while you are lowered down until you can take the trapeze off the truss. Next, you hobble together entwined with the trapeze like you’re on some weird japanese game show.  You finally make it to the safety of the bathroom, where you have to figure out how to extract yourselves from each other and argue over who is going to run back into the space in her underpants and get clothes for the two of you.

A good moment in Romania

A good moment in Romania

The last time this happened to me was in performance. What can I say, I’m a slow learner.  I was performing a duo trapeze act in Romania for a circus there with Kristin Young who was replacing Laura for that stint. It was approaching summer, we were high up in a real circus tent and it was very hot. By the second week our costumes had started to stretch a bit. We knew the danger, so we started to sew them in tighter and tighter. Well, we let a few days go by and sure enough, at the end of our act, BAM! We were dangling by our crotches. As soon as people caught on to the fact that we were stuck (and we were very very high up), nine circus guys in bright green neon shirts came shimmying up the rig wires to come rescue us. When they got there, I told them, “I hope someone remembered scissors!”  No one did, but luckily they managed to support us enough so we could unwind ourselves and get off without falling to our deaths (file that under the best way to receive a Darwin award).  It must have been a good five to seven minutes until we actually got to the floor. The clown afterward told us that he had covered and didn’t think anyone noticed…

  Tips to Prevent Early Pants Loss

1.Keep your junk tucked in (yet another reason for a dance belt if you are a boy, don’t even contemplate that sort of wrapping).

2.Do not wear low rise, old, thin, or loose leggings.  If you have a long run, sew up your costumes and chalk up the center of bar.

3.Lift and Separate! If you start to wrap, stop rolling or reverse it.

4.Have a signal if one of you notices what is happening so you can stop it before it gets bad.

5.Finally, If it does happen to you, think of it as a cheap way to get a Brazilian.

Share with us your most embarrassing moments in the air or youtube links of funny stuff other people have gotten themselves into.