On skills and sanity

Betty has been trucking across town to circus class every Thursday for a while now, and quite honestly wouldn’t like to imagine this present life without it, if at all possible. This past term has been lovely: a different teacher, who is supportive and wonderful and shares Betty’s love for the clinically special and their siblings and art and dance and behaving like a holy fool from time to time; classmates ranging in age from ten to Betty, one of whom has an aunt who made a career as a human cannonball; and a beautiful studio by the zoo with windows covering one wall; and, importantly, enough rope…

It hasn’t just been trapeze all term, either. There are silks, or tissu, which are beautiful and difficult – one has to climb to fearful heights and hang on, and wrap one’s limbs into various locks and wedge one’s torso between the ribbons and reserve enough energy to come down again, while making it one’s resolve to stay up, because the silks are like a wave pool of gravity, constantly inching one down. The day after tissu is achy shoulders, tender knuckles, slight burns on the tops of one’s feet, and back muscles like a flying squirrel.

There’s also a hammock of silk, rigged from two points, that mimics the cloudswing made of rope – it’s lovely fun, perfect for flipping in, or as a place from which to sling some small child. There’s a lyra, essentially a hanging hula hoop that looks graceful but causes about as much pain as you’d expect from a solid piece of metal. The studio has two trapezes, a triple (four ropes and a bar, as seen in the previous circus post), and a single, which is currently rigged from one point, which makes it a dance trapeze. It spins.

But what Betty is trying to convey is the motivation and the challenge of aerial circus. Betty has terrible upper-body strength and a dramatic fear of heights, both of which amplify the temptation to slack off. I might just do another gazelle, one thinks to oneself. I might do something more experimental. In lieu of actual skills, I shall emote at a medium height in a paroxysm of dorsiflexion. This video, I think, shows a slightly more realistic view – the excuses of laziness don’t really fool the camera. Uninitiated viewers will have to imagine the sensations of having fairly substantial rope wrapping around the knees, with one’s practically entire and very non-Bulgarian-gymnast weight resting on it; of becoming semi-stuck on one’s own proverbial; of being acutely aware that the bar is rigged, I don’t know, two feet higher than when one started to learn this piece, which shouldn’t change much, but does. In the half-hour after this video was taken, with the help of some rosin and a run-through on the silks and the teacher’s direct suggestion, Betty did the handstand anyway and it didn’t kill her. You see?

The day after trapeze is bruises behind one’s knees, bruises across one’s pelvis, bruised ankles, bruised shoulder-blades, callouses under each finger, a decompressed spine, pathetically exhausted arms, and a smile.


It’s been very windy.


Last weekend Betty had Pilates training all weekend – first three apprentices tested out, and then all the teachers had continuing education. This means many many workouts, lots of coffee runs and organising, pep talks, early starts, and sore muscles.

There are also some significant upsides…



There should really be a photo of sweaty socks to balance that out, but such is life. Betty has now basically caught up with not having a weekend, so there’s lots more to look forward to – some sunny days, more bike rides, lots of walking (the Auckland Marathon is coming up fast), and an exciting double date… stay tuned!

Swings and roundabouts

The reason for Betty’s day off today was a Skinner Releasing workshop with low-flying trapeze in Titirangi, which looks like this:


But when Betty got there, she found that it had been cancelled at the last minute due to low enrollments. Is it not always the way?


It was gravely disappointing, but it was either off the cliffs or onward and upward, so Betty headed back into the city. It’s quite a long way. There is a train, which is much more picturesque than the bus, but it turns out the trains are off this weekend. See Life, above.

Fortunately, during the bus ride Betty had a brainwave, and remembered she could drop in to the dance studio, which looks like this:


… and she did the Charleston for an hour, which is a wonderful thing to do when you’re feeling a bit stabby.


Then she met the husband person and had a lovely walk along the viaduct, learning some interesting facts, and breathing the salt air.


And on the way home they went into the fish market for the first time – not something that usually appeals to Betty’s vegetarian sensibilities, but it turns out to be quite corking.




So there you go. When you lose on the gee-gees, make lemonade, as they say.