Step Right up to Circus Arts, Day 103
My activity for tonight has me unexpectedly wishing for a windfall of money to train intensively and add circus arts to my skill set as an actor. After all, Cirque du Soleil does hire singers, and I imagine a singer with circus-related experience would have far more possibilities in that fascinating realm. See? Already I digress in my excitement.
Upon arrival at New York Circus Arts, I had no such enthusiasm. In an otherwise convenient location just one short subway stop from Manhattan in a clean and extremely spacious nine thousand square foot facility, New York Circus Arts sits next to railway tracks, the Manhattan Bridge, and plenty of fences and quiet warehouses to set the first time visitor at unease. Fortunately, the kind woman at the front desk assured us of their friendly and productive warehouse neighbors that make her feel much safer than she did upon her first visit as well. I encountered no discomfort on the way home at night and now feel much more at ease about the possibility of returning to try more evening classes.
After likely the most impressively thorough group stretch I have ever seen (more thorough than any dance, stage combat, exercise, or movement class I’ve attended), we introduced ourselves and told everyone our motivations behind taking this introductory class. I of course had my blog and Groupon to thank. While many others also purchased the deal through Groupon, most of the Grouponers bought the class as a group of friends, and some individuals came of their own volition hoping for a little adventure. My juggling partner Stephanie came from Germany via England in search of a fun learning experience between job hunting, and Jennifer and Andrea, my partners for just about everything else (and so generously took a few photos and videos for me), came together as friends from MTV Studios.
In a class of about fifteen to twenty women and one very smart man, we received expert instruction in basic positions, tumbling, trampoline, juggling, partner balancing, and aerial silk from a very thorough, clear, and patient teacher Michelle Arvin. Struggling with juggling for for quite some time in my movement class at the Maryland Opera Studio, I admittedly grimaced a bit when she brought out the balls to work with while we waited our turn on the trampoline. Nevertheless, I managed to get one successful pass at a three-ball juggle, and my partner magically had hers going for quite some time before they dropped. The trampoline? Highly entertaining. I had as much fun attempting our final jump into “the pit” as I did watching to see how each participant might land (we all should have landed in a very specific way, of course).
During the course of our class, I did not execute every move flawlessly by any means. Juggling still mostly defies me, my trampoline dismount left me a little close to the edge, and I know my thighs burned much more than they should have when supposedly using my arms and back to pull myself up on the aerial silk. The tiny remnants of tingling from my previous minor knee injury said hello on the subway ride home, and I hardly feel as though I touched the surface of such a surprisingly deep art. In truth, at least now I appreciate both its splendor and accessibility to anyone who wants to learn – at least at the New York Circus Arts. Many thanks to Michelle Arvin and all of the other participants for creating such a fun and engaging experience for me tonight.
I would very highly recommend this class to anyone interested in active learning, with one minor caveat. Both the Groupon deal and the description and pictures on New York Circus Arts’s website very clearly state the inclusion of trapeze training in the introductory class. I will send this review and a note to them to see what happened and if I can somehow receive that part of the instruction to discuss for a later post. In the meantime, if you have your heart set on trapeze as part of your introduction (as did some of the disappointed members of my class), email or call them in advance at (212) 751-2174 to ensure that your session actually includes it. Alternatively, they also offer other various and more specific classes, including a new Aerial Sculpt class and a specific class on Flying Trapeze, among many other topics. So go bounce, fly, and check your inhibitions at the door – and come back to check for photos and videos of my attempts!