Ottawa Stilt Union

Running Away to Join the Circus

A few months ago, a friend of mine told me about these Vaudeville classes she was taking at "Circus School" - Centre of Gravity in Toronto.  My curiosity was piqued.  I've done clown work and stilt walking in the past, and I definitely want the roller skating I do in Roller Derby Saved my Soul to be very circus-like.  I checked out the website and found something that was perfect for me: Circus Conditioning and Flexibility Class.  Now, to be fair, my brain, the first time, totally read that as "Core" Conditioning and Flexibility Class (in fact, I didn't realize until right now when I looked it up for this blog that it was called something else)  and I jumped at the chance to get more ab work since I totally need it to get steadier on skates. The roommate and I signed up.  Turns out my roommate is a former gymnast (is there anything she can't do?) and she also wanted to get back into shape.

The class itself is really cool and the instructor is *sigh* very good.  We started out with some stretching, then some tumbling (where I swear the Mission Impossible theme was playing in my head the entire time), tried to balance some objects on our chins, got my first introduction to juggling, and then did a circuit that included balancing yourself on top of a ball as well climbing up silks and a low-hanging trapeze.

It was hard and I'm definitely feeling it today, but I'm proud that the roommate and I were able to keep up.  Not to mention some activities were a lot easier than I thought they would be like standing up tall on a big round ball.


This one made sense to me.  It's all core work and I've got a lot of experience there thanks to yoga and roller skating.  No, the one that did surprise me was the fact that I can juggle.  How that happened I really don't know, but it felt the exact same way it did the first time I put on roller skates.  Not easy, but with definite ease. Next up, juggling on roller skates?


Live to Learn

Soon, all of my posts will have to do with the Upper Canada Playhouse and the Ottawa Fringe Festival. But before that happened, I wanted to briefly mention how much I love learning. Seriously, I can't get enough of learning new things. It's difficult and frustrating at times, but man is it ever sweet when you can go "OH MY GOD I TOTALLY UNDERSTOOD THAT!" Besides, as artists, it is important for us all to keep training and learning new things. It is the best and easiest (though not always the cheapest) way that I know to gain new skills and inspiration.

This past month, I had the opportunity to take two amazing, yet completely different workshops, which helped me out in more ways than one.

The first one was with the Ottawa Stilt Union. Guess what I learned there? Here, I'll give you a hint:

Yup, thanks to the incredibly patient, dedicated, amazing, possibly magical (I honestly can't say enough good things about this wonderful woman) Laura Astwood, yours truly can get up on pieces of plywood and walk nonchalantly around a room (sometimes I can even do it without bursting into tears and/or having a panic attack).

Now if you're my Mom, you're probably thinking "Why in the world would you want to do that?" (PS. Hi Mom!) For one thing, it's incredibly cool and something not a lot of people can do, for another it fulfills a deep-seeded childhood dream to join the circus, which my sister says I should have done many years ago (PS. Hi sis!)

But frankly, in the last couple of years, I've been interested in various forms of physical theatre. This workshop just pushed me further into that direction. Also, as a wannabe creator, I enjoy the work the Stilt Union does and am inspired by their collective pieces. It was nice to finally check them out up close in personal.

Also, stilting is an incredible workout. My time in the workshop reminded me how much I need to take care of my body and to keep it in shape. Since finishing the workshop, I've been working out almost every single day and even doing those horrendous ab exercises called the "Brazilian" (I think the one that involves hot wax is less painful) every single night because dammit if I'm not a glutton for punishment.

I expect more stilt walking in my near future.

The other workshop was through the awesome Guerilla Heart Juice. It was with the incredibleMartha Ross and was called Find Your Voice: A Writing Workshop. But this wasn't any simple writing workshop. GHJ is, after all, a movement school. No, this workshop helped us find our various character voices based on Martha's experience with the teachings of Jacques LeCoq.

It was incredibly freeing to find a character in the body first before bringing that character to the page. I had been experiencing writer's block for many many weeks now and this was the first time the valves opened up. I'm pretty sure I may have discovered a new character for my Derby show. More on that later, as it develops.