By Julaine Hall
When we left off, Terry and I had just finished discussing circus in Costa Rica! You can go back to part one on the Hup Squad blog here and read the first half. Now, onto our final questions…
J: Okay, so let’s see. What is your biggest joy of being a circus artist?
T: Um, that’s a hard one to narrow down because I really like I guess, you know, there’s really two sides to it. I really enjoy the process of creating circus. The collaborative process of getting ideas from everyone and that kind of like — those moments of kind of Eureka! When everybody feels like they are bought in to the same idea.
T: Then, also like the hard conversations too. Like that feeling a level of engagement from everybody is really satisfying to me, and then also drives me crazy sometimes (both chuckle). Um, so I really enjoy the process side of it. That, like, really charges my battery. And then I would also say that I really enjoy the kind of product side of it as well. Of, a, like doing a show. Like being on stage. Kind of like that, that moment of really being in my body. Of not having to think about what I’m doing. Um, and feeling like the audience is really connecting with me. Um, and then, yeah, I just that feeling of instant feedback for my own kind of state of like, of my own mind/body togetherness. Like, do I, do I do a trick and the audience responds well to that or do I, you know, do I trip and then, and then, um, sort of embrace that and like the audience, you know, laughs at it is such a kind of intimate relationship. So that, that part feels really special to me too.
J: Oh yeah, totally! Awesome. Yeah, those points all definitely make sense. Yeah, circus is just – it’s super cool. There’s so much that you can do with it.
T: Yeah. How about you? How ‘bout you, Julaine? Like what’s the most significant or the most joyful part of making circus for you?
J: Oh, huh, probably the, let’s see. I really like getting out and like, going out and just like training really hard and—
J: Then stumbling upon something. And sort of like taking a break from like, so, I’ll be training something and sort of make a mistake and then I’ll say, like that was actually sort of cool. So, then, I’ll go back and refine it —
J: And then maybe I’ll have a new skill or a new sequence or maybe it’s just like stepping up to the pole in a different way but it —
T: Oh, yeah.
J: A different way to display how you feel.
T: Oh man, yeah.
J: Yeah, and what’s funny–
T: Yeah, the happy accidents.
T: That’s totally magical.
J: Yeah, happy accidents. It’s definitely. That’s the perfect way to describe it. (Both chuckle) Nice.
T: That’s how Bob Ross talks about it, the painter.
J: Oh yeah, the little trees. Uh. Funny stuff. (Both chuckle) Yeah, we’re all just circus artists, and Bob Ross is just a circus artist with a paint brush.
T: Exactly, exactly. (Both chuckle)
J: That’s funny.
J: Okay, so this one is –what is the hardest thing or the biggest struggle to being a circus artist?
T: Okay, okay. Um, let’s see. Let’s see, let’s see, let’s see. The hardest thing about being a circus artist is: Well, I would say that, I mean obviously, money can be a struggle. Collaboration can be very difficult. Finding work can be really difficult. But, I would have to say that one of the most difficult things in my opinion is traveling can be really hard. Um, to like create community and personal relationships with people sometimes because, because. For whatever reason most of the world, um, is really, really set on being sedentary and like having one address. Um, but when you’re a performer, generally it makes the most sense to travel a lot ‘cuz you’re always chasing the audience, right?
J: Oh yeah.
T: You can’t just stay in one city because everybody’s gonna see your show and then you got no more audience. In theory. That’s the theory, I guess.
J: Oh, yeah.
T: Unless you have a model like Teatro Zinzanni, where you’re really pulling in the audiences forever.
T: Um, but, yeah, and I mean it’s one of the most fun things too, I really like touring. Um, but then when you are kind of constantly, you always have like, a little bit of like a timeline. Um, you know for me I’m in Seattle, generally. Right now it’s an exception because we’re in the pandemic. But, I’m usually like yeah, uh, in a month or two I’m gonna have to leave, um, so (clears throat), so like relationships and friendships kind of have to be put on hold or become, you know, kind of long distance. Um, so, I don’t know, yeah, that’s, that I think has been my experience if I’m really honest about it.
J: For sure. Yeah, traveling seems like it would be the hardest part. ‘Cuz I feel like all the other stuff is or when you know society builds up a, um, like a sort of, you know, and you kind of have to go against the grain in order to keep the work coming in you know, it might be challenging, it might be discouraging seeing society just be able to stay and do this stuff but then, oh, but I have to move to get my job. You know what I mean?
T: Yeah exactly.
J: (interrupts) – but it might mean
T: yeah – society is just not set up that way, unfortunately.
T: What were you gonna say?
J: Oh, I was just gonna say that it probably makes it way more rewarding though sometimes too.
T: Totally. Yeah, really fun – to go lots of different places.
J: Yeah, for sure. Awesome. Let’s see. Okay, this one should be fun. What do you have more fun as – the student or the teacher?
T: Hmm. Uh, both, I really like both. Although, um, I don’t know, I think probably teacher, right now. Um, I just really like the sound of my own voice.
T: (Laughs) No, um, really like, um, helping someone unlock a skill like that moment of, um, of kind of going from not being able to do a thing, like I cannot do a thing, and then at some point somebody can do it. And, being able to be a part of that process is so fun!
J: Nice. Yeah that makes sense. That’s super cool. I feel like there are lots of times when you know that could fluctuate. Like maybe take a lesson from someone and they’re super good and you’re like, oh my gosh this is awesome, and then they leave and you have to try to learn stuff on your own and then you’re like, now being a student isn’t so much fun. And, then you find someone you can teach and then you’re like, yes, being a teacher is fun! And then that person leaves and you find another coach and then you’re like being the student is fun. And so on it goes.
T: Yeah, totally. Being a student is also so fun because I don’t know, I really like that phase in the beginning of learning when you, when you acquire skills quickly. It’s the 80/20 thing. You know, you acquire 80% of the skills in 20% of the time. So, it’s so satisfying in the beginning when you know, it’s like, when things come really easily.
J: Oh yeah.
T: Yeah, love that.
J: Yeah, it’s so – like the crash after is very disappointing.
J: Like for me, when I started pole when I was like 11, right.
J: And, at 13 I felt very stationary in my skills.
J: And I was like, well, this is a bummer. Then I started rope and I was like, yeah! Skills!
J: Then, I went to Smirkus and lost all my pole skills and had to gain them all back.
T: Uh huh. Yeah.
J: And, I was kind of like, I’m kind of at the same spot with both of these. And then I started straps and I was like, yeah!
T: Yeah, totally
J: So, it’s just like moving all the time.
T: Yeah, I know, so fun before you get to the plateau, then it’s just like floggin’ through it. But, I guess that can be satisfying in a different way, I s’pose.
J: True. Yeah, just not as like, boom, boom – the skills.
J: Yeah, awesome. And, I was gonna say, I think I know the answer to this question but maybe not. Do you find more joy in working alone or with others?
T: Um, I guess, it depends. I would say that for the most part I really enjoy working with others. Um, um, like training with other people is really satisfying. Um, especially when it comes to aerial, I find, because I kind of don’t really want to climb up a thing and do something really hard if no one else is going to witness it. (Both chuckle). I find. Um, but. But, then, sometimes sometimes, you know there’s nothing like putting on music and getting into your own little world and uh, being able to have your own little dance party and not worry about whatever anybody else is, you know, thinking. Sometimes that can be really nice too. You know I have been doing slack rope a little bit in my house actually. And, that’s been really fun to kind of get into that and blast my music and, and do my own thing.
J: Yeah, yeah ‘cuz it’s even more secluded then you know training at the park because it’s just your place.
T: Yeah, totally.
J: Nice. Totally agree.
J: Oh, let’s see. Darn it. I really shouldn’t have done this out of order. Aww, there we go, So – What do you think that circus artists have or can contribute to society that Muggles don’t or can’t?
T: Wow! Are you gonna say Muggles in this interview?
J: (Chuckles) Uh, Muggles, yeah.
T: Right on. (Laughs) Cool. This is gonna be controversial, Julaine. I can’t wait to read this.
T: What do we have to contribute to society? OMG, so many things. I think that, um, inspiration, obviously. I think that people see what we do and they get inspired and they say, I can do that or do something. It’s, it’s kind of an antidote to despair, perhaps, seeing ordinary humans do extraordinary things – physically and maybe sort of inspiring them on a metaphorical level too.
T: So, I like that. I also think it’s also important that people remember that they have bodies and that it’s joyful to use their bodies in non-competitive, athletic ways. Um, expressive ways. Um, because I think that, you know, we are becoming a very knowledge-based society and the ways that we do use our bodies tend to be, you know, sports and um, very quantitative things and circus is not that. That is an important thing. And, then one more…I could go on and on about this. But, one more is that we live in a world where, even before the pandemic, live theater attendance was kind of diminishing. And, circus has a very unique thing to bring to live performance which is that aspect of risk – physical risk and you know, that risk of failure in a certain kind of way, you know and I think that is kind of electrifying for audiences. And, I think that it really makes them want to come and all gather in one room. Um, which is a really important thing for all humans to do. You know, Netflix and all that digital entertainment will only get us so far. I think we gotta, we gotta come together as a community, to you know, to really remember what it is to be a human being too.
J: Totally. Wow, that was really, really well-said. Nice!
T: (Chuckles) Wow, thanks.
J: Well, of course, we are doubly isolated because of Covid. But —
J: But the isolation of, um, like people. If you just think about the ‘60’s and now, like neighbors would be like, “how’s it goin’ man?” They’d talk all the time. And they’d talk all the time and now it’s like “hey, t’s up?” Maybe once a week, if anything.
T: Yeah, yeah. Totally. Yeah, that makes me think of like a neighbor leaning over the fence and chattin’ to his neighbor. Yeah, it’s really sad, you know, people just not hangin’ out as much. So, yeah. Circus has got that going for it. In a lot of ways too. You know, like in training we have to come together and in performing.
J: Yeah. To make circus happen it’s a lot of really hard tasks.
J: And you kind of need a lot of people’s help to make it work.
J: Like, can I hang on this? Oh, I should consult somebody. And, that person you’re collaborating with and once you figure out you can hang on it, “Great, I’m gonna train.” Uh, I don’t feel motivated. Hey, let’s get a training buddy.
T: Yeah. Exactly.
J: Then you’re like, Wanna make a show?
T: Yeah, yeah. Totally It’s a —must be present to win– kind of thing.
J: Totally. Awesome. I was gonna ask, do you have anything else that you want the — the audience for this article is AYCO members. So, yeah, if you have anything in particular that you think that audience should know, this is a very good time to share.
T: Hmm. One thing that I would say is that I think that it is very important for anyone who wants to be an artistic creator, like an artistic director, or an artistic creator of their own expressive work, I think it is really important for them to see as much of their art and live art in general as possible. Because, um, your case is going to grow and you’re going to be aware of what’s out there and what’s possible and what kinds of things you can imitate or improve upon, or respond to. So, I think if you can go and see contemporary dance, if you can see theater, if you can see spectacle. Um, if you can see circus shows. And, also, you know read, like actual books (both chuckles), you know. Really important and, you know, experience art in whatever form is available to you because all of that is going to, I think, influence what you do, make it richer.
J: Totally, awesome.
T: It’s a lot.
J: Yeah, it makes a lot of sense. Nice.
J: Yeah, that was super awesome. I really appreciate it!
T: You’re super awesome.
J: Thanks. Well, you’re super awesome!
T: Thanks for giving me the opportunity to, you know, feel like I’ve got something to share.
J: Well, you definitely do! (Both laugh)
T: Awesome, well, I think I’m going to go to the beach and see if I can do some slack rope between two trees.
J: Heck yeah, sounds like fun!
T: (Chuckles) Cool.
J: Yeah, I’m going to go out and train a little more Pole. Circus beings going out and doing more circus.
T: Nice. Awesome! Well, um, I hope that you don’t get too cold and that you’re still up for some more Pole. You’ve got some pretty amazing endurance.
J: Thank you. I appreciate it.
T: (Chuckles) Alright. Cool, Julaine! I’ll see you soon.
J: Sounds good. See you later!
T: Alright. Bye.
Phone hangs up.
J: (Whispers) Terry is so cool!
That is a wrap to Terry’s interview! If you’d like to learn more about Terry, check out Acrobatic
Conundrum’s website: http://www.acrobaticconundrum.com/
His Instagram: @thekidontherope https://www.instagram.com/thekidontherope/?hl=en
And his Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TerryCrane00