I've chosen rope and I describe myself as a rope performer, so when I can't train it's pretty grim! Apart from the fact that regular exercise obviously helps me stay happy and sane and also necessitates my living reasonably healthily, every time I described myself as an aerialist I felt like a fraud. Four months is the longest I haven't trained since I started (I once burst into tears when I realised my evening class easter holiday was three weeks long instead of two!) and I had a constant feeling of an hourglass slipping away, getting back to training was going to be harder every day I didn't have the time and energy to do it.
I kept up a little by doing yoga and pilates, using online videos to motivate me. (Tara Stiles and Blogilates, if you're interested). I also read and wrote a lot, as described in my other posts, which helped me stay focussed on the work I wanted to create.
I went to more workshops with Karla Shacklock, which not only helped me find ways of devising work (creating 'jars') but also got me back into doing a bit of fitness in her amazing warm-ups*! This was about a month after I left my job and definitely the start of me feeling like someone who made performance again; pretty pivotal.
I started to go to a rope class on Friday nights, taught by Joe Palmer and Gareth Bailey. I wanted to ease back into training by taking a regular class (I love taking classes!) and have learnt some lovely new stuff. I decided to give myself a deadline to perform again and will be doing so on Saturday night at The Cave of Mystery. It was a bit risky having been so busy with the play and the Boxcar tour, but deadlines work and it's coming together!
I thought I might just revive an old act, with the aim of having to regain my stamina and just perform in public after a while. But the writing and ideas I've had about this forest/walnut tree piece have been burning away and I decided to take a risk and work on that instead. The choreography has come together well with the music (which I brought in fairly late in the process as I want the movement to communicate for itself). I'm using some new vocabulary from the Friday classes and I've even found I can actually talk and project at the points I'd planned (rope is tiring!). It's perhaps a dangerous lesson to learn that getting your stamina back and putting a piece together can happen so quickly, but a happy one too! I'll be in training a couple more times before Saturday and need to work on memorising and finding the best way of telling the story that goes with it; it's from the Creative Exchange, a piece of writing about when I was a child, the city kids who moved to the countryside playing on rope swings in the trees. Matilda's feedback on the writing and how it might be used in performance has been invaluable!
There's certainly a lot more to be done on this piece. It's showable and I think it will fit the night well and having to create it in a bit of a rush has made it happen without endless procrastination. But I will step back from it after the show and see how I feel it has worked with the writing and where it might fit into the whole piece.
My plan is to collate a bit more performance material (bizarrely, now it more scary to create the ground based work that I want to include in a longer show) and arrange a little private scratch night to get some feedback and reactions. So after a little digestion I will set myself a deadline for that too.
I suspect my training will always be a little sporadic. I am, as I like to describe it, hormonally challenged. And I am usually involved in a lot of different projects. Perhaps my fingers are dipped into too many pies and I'm certainly watchful of that. But while I respect, and sometimes envy, people who train with a total dedication and vigour, I aim to create work with an honest core that will communicate on quite an intimate level. So in a way this is a justification (to myself) that engaging in life outside of the training space will enrich the work I make. Having realised just how unhappy not doing rope makes me and being motivated and inspired by the ideas I've had recently makes me feel optimistic that I'm going to keep training now because I have a clearer goal of where I am going.
The last two weeks have been wonderful, performing in the play and training this piece. Pretty much an ideal lifestyle and I even managed to fit in a little music, socialising and resting! I'm looking into ways of funding some further training or r&d and possibly of working somewhere where training would be integral to my job, but for now I know persistence has worked.
*Would you like to see the @BeyondBristol morning warm-ups continue? Tell us and why! Email firstname.lastname@example.org