Tag Archives: aerial arts

The Circus Doc Created a Book for Aerialists

Our very own resident physical therapist, Emily Scherb, has written the first ever aerial anatomy book: Applied Anatomy for Aerial Artists, published by North Atlantic Books. You can get a your copy early at the book launch August 21 at Third Place Books Ravenna.

Emily shares how she convinced the publishing world that the circus community is a thing and that we need anatomy books! No one else has really laid out the physicality of the work we’re doing, so she took it upon herself to prevent injuries and help us all become better students, instructors, and performers.

How did you originally get into circus?
Emily: Well, I was a competitive gymnast as a young kid and when I was eleven I found circus summer
camp. That was it! I loved it. By the time I was 16 I was teaching at the camp and trained independently with my trapeze rigged up at a gymnastics school throughout the year. When I finished high school, I moved to Portland and joined a local aerial dance company, Pendulum Aerial Arts Dance, and interned with Do Jump! Extremely Physical Theatre. After spending some time in Portland, I went to college in St. Louis where I worked with Circus Harmony during the year and in the summers taught flying trapeze. I interned with Elizabeth Streb as a dancer after my sophomore year, and after graduating I moved to New York City and became the Assistant Manager of the Trapeze School of New York and worked at the Espana-Streb Trapeze Academy. Then, I went to
graduate school back at Washington University in St. Louis where I was able to continue training and teaching throughout my studies. When I heard SANCA had just opened a flying trapeze rig the timing was perfectly coordinated with my graduation, and I headed to Seattle.

Clearly circus is an integral part of your life! How did you get the idea for writing a book?
Emily:
In 2012 SANCA was hosting what was then called the AYCO Educators Conference (now ACE). Jo Montgomery asked me if I would create a four-hour long anatomy course for the educators who were attending. The questions they had and the deep interest everyone expressed about the topic really inspired me to start thinking about writing a book. It took a few more years and quite a few more workshops until I felt knowledgeable enough to approach the logistics of actually making it happen.

Once you had conceived of the idea for your book, how did you start the process of getting it published?
Emily: I did some research on publishers who have published similar things (anatomy, sports textbooks, etc.)
and with a friend’s guidance, I wrote up a book proposal. Circus has been growing exponentially so it was a great opportunity for a book like this.

My book is really focused on injury, injury prevention, self-care and building a training plan. It includes exercises for aerialists and education on what injuries they prevent.

Was it hard to get publishers to listen?
Emily: Definitely, I really had to make the argument that there is a huge community out there that is hungry for this information – about how the body works and how it allows us to do the things we do. No one has really broken down how aerialists are moving!

How long did it take to get a book deal?
Emily: I sent out the first proposal to a publisher in the summer of 2016 but didn’t get a contract until April of 2017.

What was your incentive for creating the book?
Emily: I hope it’s going to be a resource for aerialists and instructors to increase safety and awareness in their training. I hope it helps people have a better understanding of the body mechanics behind [aerial] so we can all be better students, instructors, and performers.

Muscles are made to work together either in pairs, or dynamically with other. Often when there is pain, it means there is over use of one group instead of balance.

What are common injuries in aerialists that you are hoping this book will help prevent?
Emily: The most common injuries are over-use injuries, especially in the shoulders – then hips and backs. The most common acute injury is sprained ankles and back.

What do the exercises focus on in order to prevent those injuries?
Emily: Muscles are made to work together either in pairs, or dynamically with other. Often when there is pain, it means there is over use of one group instead of balance.

 

Did you work with anyone to get the book done?
Emily: I worked with medical illustrator, Tiffany S. Davanzo, photography by Danny Boulet and used
aerialists from the community as my models.

You can find Applied Anatomy for Aerial Artists at your favorite bookstore and online at Amazon. Are you interested in working with Emily as your physical therapist? Check out her business website, Pure Motion Physical Therapy, for office locations and booking an appointment.

Coach Eve Tours with Circus Monti this Summer!

Eve Diamond on Cloud Swing

Cirrus Circus coach, Eve Diamond, will be joining the Swiss traveling circus group, Circus Monti, as they tour Switzerland for their Summer tour. Get to know Eve and her tips for sticking to what you love, even if what you love doesn’t always come easily.

 

To do this work you really sacrifice a lot. In my last year of school, a big job came through and I gave up my house, missed birthdays and funerals. You really do give up a lot to be a part of this work, but it is hard to not do it if it’s something that is speaking to you so loudly.

The year Eve was born, her uncle suffered a terrible motorcycle accident which left him paralyzed from the waist down. The impact of this trauma left an impression on her mother, Marilyn, to get Eve involved in as many physical activities as a possible. Growing up in Boston, she took on everything from horseback riding, baseball, softball, soccer, to field hockey, and eventually circus.

At the age of thirteen, Eve’s mother, signed her up for camp at Circus Smirkus in nearby Vermont.

“I didn’t want to go to circus camp. I was like, ‘that sounds really stupid.’ But then I went…and I became obsessed. I absolutely loved it and almost immediately knew that I wanted to pursue circus.”

After the camp, she auditioned for Circus Smirkus tours for five or six years, but was never quite able to make the cut. So, she took to her own living room and continued to train independently as she prepared for college.

“Nothing existed like SANCA to train circus on your own where I was, so I took gymnastics and practiced in my living room. My dad made hand balancing canes, and I taught myself juggling.”

In her freshman and senior years of college she auditioned for École National de Cirque, but was rejected both times. She focused on her studies, graduating Magna Cum Laude from Keene State College in New Hampshire with a BA in English and a teacher certification. But she never quit training, and her passion for circus didn’t subside despite setbacks. Soon after graduating she was contemplating a career in academia when she got accepted into a three year intensive training program at Circus Center in San Francisco.

“I was in school six days a week from 9am to 5pm for three years and working with some of the most famous, well respected, internationally recognized coaches which was amazing.…[school] was really painful and terrible, but you knew that the coaches who were training you had so much information that you would do anything to get.”

Graduating in 2011, Eve started performing professionally in her specialty areas of cloud swing and rope. Cloud swing in particular was difficult to train due to the amount of space it requires in addition to a specialized technician. Deciding to pursue cloud swing further, she moved to Montreal in 2013 to train with Coach Victor Fomine, a world expert in cloud swing, at his studio, École Léotard.

Since then, she’s been working with SANCA and training Cirrus Circus students as she has continued to network and build her own brand.

“My job outside of coaching, which has been pretty full time, has been maintaining my acts – training, eating well, taking care of my body, sleeping well. And networking, emailing people, and researching companies I would want to work for. 

No one in this business is just like here, this is what you do. It takes dedication and curiosity to continue to pursue it. It’s really only possible to do this if you have support because it’s lonely and no one is just giving out information. You have to prove yourself to yourself and everyone around you, constantly, so it’s hard. But it’s also rewarding because you seek out a company you want to work for, you open a line of communication and you keep staying in contact year after year, sharing new work you are doing.

“I’ve been maintaining an email correspondence [with Circus Monti] for the past five years. The Gentile’s did Monti, Ben & Rachel [Duo Madrona] did Monti. It’s important to stalk your friends and follow their path. If your friends have the jobs you want, you have to be good enough friends to have someone vouch for you. This industry is so cut throat and super competitive. Everyone is hungry for the same work. You have to just not give up and be consistent.

It’s my first experience touring and working in Europe. Hopefully it will lead to more work, but you don’t know. So you have to just start all over again. Stay in touch, send updated material, and be someone that people want to be around!

…The good part of working [at SANCA] is that they really support you in doing what you want, especially in an industry with such limited job security. 

It’s cool teaching in Cirrus because it’s important to have people who are working in the industry. I am excited to have this opportunity and come back and share my knowledge with the future generation of circus artists.”

Eve on Rope:

via www.eveontheswing.com

 

We wish Eve the best of luck on the road

and can’t wait to hear about it all once she returns!

Cirrus Circus presents “Acro-Biographies”

Meet Cirrus Circus at the library as they conduct research, hunt for a good read, and find all the books they can about the physics and mathematics of juggling. Along the way they discover that books are portals to new and different worlds.

When their bumbling professor stops by, he struggles to keep himself rooted in reality rather than follow his imagination. Can they convince their professor that these other worlds are wonderful places to visit, full of amazing adventures and artistic expression?

Acro-Biographies features contortion, Geman wheel, teeterboard, duo trapeze, and more. Join Cirrus Circus as they crawl up, balance on, and flip through the pages, using their imagination and circus skill to transform the ordinary into the extraordinary.

WHEN
November 10-18th, 2017
Friday 7pm
Saturday 3pm or 7pm

WHERE
Broadway Performance Hall
1625 Broadway
Seattle, WA 98122

MORE INFO
206-652-4433
www.sancaseattle.org

TICKETS
IN ADVANCE: Adults $20, Youth 16 & under $12 https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3091187
1-800-838-3006
AT THE DOOR: Adults $25, Youth 16 & under $15

Brought to you in part with support from Seattle Credit Union and Choice Tea.

SANCA’s Annual Spring Showcase

4 Unique Circus Variety Shows!

Every year SANCA presents a showcase of unique circus performances featuring students, alumni, staff, and friends. For one weekend only, we hold four shows, each featuring a different line up of spectacular local and internationally renowned circus performers alongside SANCA’s tremendously talented student performers. The SASS shows are the capstone performances for students and staff who have workshopped new performances and are ready to take to the stage in displays of pure awesomeness! Among the featured performers are Seattle favorites, the youth circus troupes Cirrus Circus, the Magnificent 7, and the Amazing Circus 1-ders. Audiences will be treated to daring displays of acrobatics, high-flying aerials, juggling, and much more!

Friday Night features Leslie Rosen and Mary Gargett – “Hottie Long Legs.” This stilt walking dynamic duo is comprised of performing powerhouses Leslie Rosen and Mary Gargett. Both having backgrounds in Hula Hoop, Belly Dance, and Fire Manipulation, they are sure to set the seats on fire opening night!

Saturday Matinee features Emma Curtiss – Cyr Wheel Extraordinaire. A swirling, twirling, dizzying blur of beauty and strength, Emma has been captivating audiences up and down the West Coast for over 5 years performing Cyr Wheel, Silks, and Clowning. Try to keep up as she spins around the stage at our Saturday Matinee!

Saturday Night features La Famiglia Gentile – Foot Juggling Family Troupe. We are delighted to have the internationally acclaimed La Famiglia Gentile as SANCA’s current Artists in Residence! This fantastic flipping family will have you on the edge of your seats as they juggling not only objects with their feet but themselves too!

Sunday Matinee features Saffi Watson – Contortion. Cirrus Circus student, Saffi Watson started her performing career at the ripe age of 6, performing with SANCA, Teatro Zinzani, as well as other various venues. Under the careful direction of such elite artists as Vita Radionova and Jacob Skeffington, Saffi has blossomed into the embodiment of grace, style, power, and control.

Hosted by The Amazing Juan! After discovering a natural talent for magic while living under the stairs at his Aunt and Uncle’s house, he decided to share his passion with the world. After making stops in Cairo, Greece, Cleveland and brief run in Tijuana that resulted in some interesting and slightly embarrassing photos, The Amazing Juan will be taking Seattle by SASSy storm, hosting all four shows. Prepare yourselves for a magical display of awesomeness as The Amazing Juan makes his SANCA debut!

Tickets at: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2886600

Meet Randi – Active, Fearless, Creative, and Curious About the World.

Randi Morrison 4Randi Morrison discovered SANCA—Seattle’s only nonprofit 
circus school—in 2010 when a friend invited her to come to a circus class. She’s always been an active person, but she’d never done anything like circus before. Randi was delighted with the openness of SANCA and the mixture of people of all ages and abilities learning and working together. The atmosphere was very fun and happy—people everywhere were smiling.

The teaching style of SANCA’s instructors also impressed Randi. They gave good instruction in a safe environment with an eye to detail, and were able to quickly help students learn new skills that many had never imagined that they would be able to do.

“I want others to experience the same joy that I have at SANCA.”

In her career as a hospitalist physician, Randi also teaches residents and students, so it’s no surprise that she noticed SANCA’s instructional style. She says it’s been a great experience to be a student again — it reminds her of what it’s like to be a beginner at a new skill. She’s taken examples from SANCA back with her to the medical setting, and says that one of the most important concepts she learned here is “to imagine what a situation would look like if you introduced kindness.”

Randi Morrison 2Randi’s growth as an aerialist wasn’t always easy. She repeated the Introductory Aerial class until she had the strength and skill to progress to more advanced classes. As her skills grew, Randi had a hunger for progress that outpaced her once-weekly classes. She began taking private lessons twice a week, which eventually led to working with SANCA coaches Tyler and Carey to create a personal, two-week, intensive-training program.

Randi credits her coaches with helping her to work though physical, mental, and emotional challenges while providing a safe, happy space for her—a sanctuary from the stress of her medical work.

“What really excites me about SANCA is that they make this opportunity available to anybody regardless of financial circumstances,” says Randi. “I am so proud to tell people that ‘no one will be turned away’ from SANCA — that scholarships are available to any youth who wants to take circus classes. It’s important to me to ‘put my money where my mouth is’ by contributing to SANCA’s Youth Scholarship Fund.”

Circus is for everybody, Randi points out. She says she really enjoys being an older student (she took her first class when she was 44) because it shows there is no limit to age or ability. Everyone should take a chance and try circus, no matter what pre-imposed limits you think you have, your coaches will guide you to build new skills and experience success.

Randi says that building circus skills provides great lifelong benefits. Students at SANCA learn to be active, fearless, creative, and curious about the world.

Meet Amber, The Fatcrobat, SANCA’s hardest-working student

tumblr_inline_ni5hhgFxHT1r600ylWhen Amber Parker, a case manager with the UW Alcohol & Drug Abuse Institute, first came to SANCA she expected to learn new things and get some exercise, but she never expected how rewarding it would be to join a community of supportive, enthusiastic people who would encourage her and help her discover abilities and interests she didn’t even know she had.

Amber was inspired to give adult circus classes a try because a friend in Colorado was learning aerial silks. From watching online videos, she thought it seemed like accessible activity for a heavier person. In her Aerial Fundamentals class, she realized that aerial silks were more difficult than she anticipated, but she found many other things that she could do that she hadn’t expected to be able to do. She discovered strength and flexibility that she didn’t know she had, and she fell in love with the Static Trapeze.

Many of the benefits of circus are measurable – she lost forty pounds, reduced her high blood pressure, and reduced her daily stress – but Amber says it’s the intangible benefits that really make the difference. She feels powerful and in control of her own body for the first time in her life. Her past eight months of taking circus classes has increased her self-efficacy and boosted her self-esteem.

tumblr_inline_ngyveb7U6h1r600ylAmber points out that her progress is measured and appreciated on its own merit, and at SANCA, she doesn’t feel compared to others. Every day she trains, she feels supported, encouraged, and acknowledged for her efforts. She credits her aerial coach, Leslie Rosen, and other SANCA instructors with making circus accessible by modifying exercises to accommodate the individual. Smaller, step-by-step progressions have made it possible for her to achieve more and build up to more advanced circus skills.

Amber wants others to know that “Circus is a great way to discover the full range of your own physical abilities. You are always put in a position to achieve success.”

You can follow Amber’s circus success on Tumblr – The Fatcrobat

Beyond Intro to Aerials

If you’ve been to SANCA you’ve probably seen people climbing the rope and working on the trapeze. Looks easy when other people do it, don’t you think?

I’m going to tell you a secret and introduce you to some amazing women. The secret is that aerial work is hard. Almost everything hurts at first, and all the skills take practice and conditioning—especially if you get started as an adult without a background in gymnastics or rock climbing. Does that mean you can’t do it? Or that you shouldn’t do it? Dare you try? Of course you should! It’s fun, challenging and exciting. You can take your strength, flexibility and courage to new heights.

I want to you to meet the women of the daytime aerial class “Beyond Intro to Aerial”. These fit babes have all been in the aerial program for at least a year, and most of them have been working on the foundation skills of the Intro program for almost two. Not one of them could do a pull-up or straddle in the air when they got started.

“My brain would say pull-up. And I wouldn’t even move.” ~ Erin H.

Now Erin’s rocking pull-ups. On the first day of aerial class everyone learns the basics of how to climb. Does that mean we all climb to the top the first day? Nope. We learn the basic leg wrap to hold our bodies in the air and then we begin.

“You have to be excited about the little things. The first week I could do two climbs. The next week it was four!” ~Rachel D.

Now Rachel is doing two climbs all the way to the top of the rope as a warm-up activity. When she first started the class, Erin G. couldn’t hold her feet off the ground. At SANCAthon 2012, she climbed the rope 10 times in an hour to help raise money for our scholarship program, no sweat—and she could have kept going. Jenn says, ” I couldn’t do a straddle on the ground rolling back to touch my toes on the mat.” Now she’s doing straddles in the air.  Serenity joined the class in 2011. The biggest adjustment for her was getting used to hanging upside down. She loves the company of the other ladies and brags about all the awesome chicks from aerials. There is a lot of camaraderie in the group as everyone cheers each other along and enjoys each other’s successes.

“The turtle wins the race!” ~Lauren M

Aerials helped Lauren quit smoking and start a general lifestyle overhaul that includes running and multiple days of aerial training each week. She also got the surprise side benefit of added flexibility and is doing splits for the first time in her life.

Congratulations ladies!
Thanks for reminding us all that it’s never too soon or late to get started. There is always more to learn and you can always get stronger.

Beauty Blog: Hands

Want paws of steel that don’t crack or peel? This SANCA Beauty Blog will take you in for an extreme close-up on the digits of some of your favorite Aerialists.

Do you or someone you love adore aerials?! If so, you’ve probably noticed thick calluses and dryer skin. Want paws of steel that don’t crack or peel? This SANCA Beauty Blog will take you in for an extreme close-up on the digits of some of your favorite Aerialists.

Consider yourself among the privileged few that will get a peek at the proverbial ballerina’s feet. 

All that chalk keeps your hands dry when you work on the bars—but it also makes your hands dry in general. You don’t want them to be slippery on equipment, but you also don’t want hands like work gloves with calluses that crack or peel. What is a budding aerialist to do? Here is some advice from aerialists around SANCA.

Aerials coach and veteran aerial performer “Sally Pepper” (AKA Kari J. Hunter) prescribes, “Wash, lotion and use coconut oil. Before you train, wash your hands well and then wipe with rubbing alcohol on a clean towel. This will ensure that your hands are very clean and oil-free. Moisturize anytime your hands feel dry.”

Globe-trotting trapezist and SANCA coach alum Rachel Nehmer, the flyer of Duo Madrona fame, says, “Supple calluses are the key to long term hand health”, and uses moisturizer before bed. As the flyer in a duo she rarely touches the bar, but she has some mega-special muscles between her thumb and pointer finger. 

Ben, the base of Duo Madrona, has his own beauty regime: “After a hard day of training, hold a cold beverage in each hand.”

Tom Hanna, SANCA coach and resident one-man variety show (really, he plays guitar and accordion too—and you should see how he opens an apple!), has this advice: “Pumice your hands after the shower, it smooths the calluses without taking them off. It keeps them from tearing.”

Aerialist & flying trapeze coach Alyssa Hellrung recommends, “Never underestimate the magical power of rosin. No moisturizer for me, as the climate here in Seattle is very good for hands. But in Florida and humid climates the skin on my hands would rip often. I just deal with it.”

Thomas and Justin, who perform as Duo XY, shared with us some special flyer and base calluses they have from their hand grip. They advise to moisturize at night before bed. Thomas is sporting a sweet vacation mani/pedi, and Justin got a moisturizing paraffin wax dip while on vacation. It helped for a little while.

And finally, new aerialist Naami says…”Suck it up.” (It hurts for a while.) “When it gets so bad you can’t grip….stop.”

So there you have it:
Keep your hands clean and moisturize them.
If you have raised calluses then you should file or shave them flat.
Make sure you don’t have oil on your hands when you are training.
And you kind of have to suck it up.