Friday, 28 October 2011

To Specialise...

So.  Here we are at the end of week 5, and I have to say, I think I'm holding up pretty well, particularly in a class full of injuries, tears and one of the worst cases of concussion I've ever known.  I do feel like I may have broken a rib from an aerial move I tried yesterday, but that's nothing out of the ordinary, so no worries there.

Anyway, the topic of the blog today is Specialisation.  Next week we have to choose which two subjects out of the main four (aerial, acro-balance, physical theatre and E & M)  we want to specialise in for the rest of the course.  Obviously, my first choice was physical theatre.  I love Bim, who teaches the subject, love his Lecoq based approach, and can't wait to get stuck into physical stories, clown and grotesque, all of which will be studied in depth.  Brilliant.

The second choice though has always been a little more tricky.  I thought it would be aerial, but had an open mind towards acro-balance too.  And surprise of all surprises, I think I'm going to go with acro.  Which begs the question, 'What is acro-balance?'

Normally when I mention acro to someone I get a standard response of 'Go on then, do us a back flip'.  I can't do a back flip.  There's a very good chance I may leave Circomedia still not being able to do a back flip.  Because, you see, that's not really the point of acro-balance.  Acro-balance is about partner work, about the ways two (or more) bodies can use each other as platforms to find points of counter-balance and elevation.  I find it massively exciting to use in theatre because these moments of physicality have such great potential for really heightening the narrative.  And on a practical note, it doesn't need the specialist equipment that aerial always will.

So maybe my mission in Circus is to raise awareness of what acro-balance is, and how it can help us as theatre makers to utilise everything we've got to tell our stories.  For an example of what can be achieved from the Contemporary Circus point of view, check out this video from Mimbre:

Theatre can use this poetry of the body, and I'm going to learn how.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Under Pressure

I have a very annoying habit that has started to develop.  I'm constantly thinking about Circomedia.  I mean - constantly. It's really irritating.  Thoughts of school actually woke me up last night, and for those of you who know me well, you'll know how unusual that is.

It may be because there's quite a lot of pressure at the moment.  Every Friday we have a presentation task, and at the moment we are looking at technical presentations of ability and understanding for each of the specialist areas of E & M, aerial and acro-balance.  Last Friday was an acro presentation.  The brief required that we use no music, no characters (but what do I hide behind then?), and no story.  In this way we show our application of what we have learnt in class time and our ability to make transitions between different moves.  It went quite well, and I'm relieved it's over, as I now have to prepare a 3 minute solo piece of manipulation featuring a piece of red fabric for this Friday, and a 3 minute trapeze solo for the Friday after.  Which is fine, but I would just like to be able to switch off from it all occasionally (particularly when asleep).

Anyway, for those of you who are interested, below is the final rehearsal of my group's acro piece.  I'm the one who walks onto the far left of the screen at the start.  And in answer to my classmate's questions, no, we weren't allowed to smile.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Young and definitely Beautiful

On Friday I had the pleasure of seeing "Tell them That I am Young and Beautiful" at the Circomedia Church, featuring Marcello Magni and Kathryn Hunter, both of whom I've been a massive fan since studying European Theatre Arts at Rose Bruford 10 years ago.  Also in this performance was Patrice Naiambana (the actor on the left in the photo above), of whom at one point I caught myself thinking "I wish I could perform like that".  And then I realised that if that level of performance and physicality was or will ever be in my grasp, that time is now.  I am in exactly the right place to give me the tools to achieve the sort of theatre I saw on Friday.  And that was a rather wonderful thought.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Learning to Fail

On Friday we had a seminar with Bim, where the question he wanted answers to was "Why are you here?"  Not in an existential sense, you understand, but as in why did we choose to come to Circomedia, as opposed to other Circus training centres  and indeed, why Circus?

Now, I think through my previous blogs I've made myself quite clear on this subject, so I'm not going to bore you with all that stuff again. However, one of the (anonymous) answers to the question was, "To make as many mistakes as I can".  Bim thinks that this is a very valid answer, and I agree with him.  Being at a school such as Circomedia is the only opportunity most of us will ever have of being able to fail time and time again and being accepted anyway; moreover being encouraged to learn from our failure.  Yet I find it difficult to persuade myself that failure will be good for me.  

Throughout life I've been an achiever.  I don't think that I'm naturally gifted, but hard work, a desire to learn and a rational mind mean that I've never really struggled academically or in the working world.  And I like to do things right!  If I had my way I'd really like to go in on the first day of rehearsals to a new job and for the director to say to me "Catherine, that was wonderful.  You are the most talented member of this company.  Now go home and have a rest and I'll see you opening night."  Or something along those lines...

So learning how and loving to fail is going to be the steepest learning curve yet.  I don't like not being the best at things (and I'm certainly not the best at anything here), but maybe, if I put my mind to it, I can become really good at making mistakes.