The New York City AYCO Regional Festival on October 18 at The Circus Warehouse in Brooklyn, NY was my first time ever being in a circus workshop with people like me. I felt comfortable, ready to work, and ready to learn. It felt like home – I was comfortable with the people I didn’t even know. I felt like I belonged there, that this was supposed to happen, and that my life was finally coming together in the way that I wanted.
At the beginning of the event, I helped set up beverages and smiled at everyone. All I could think was ‘Thank you universe, for making this happen!”. I didn’t really talk to anyone because I was feeling shy, but when people talked to me I would gladly engage in some short talk. Then we did some safety training warm-up: preparing in case hawks decided to attack (sprawl), if there was another hurricane (running in place), for when bees might attack (patting down your body), and something that included squatting that the really enthusiastic warm up director made up – what a great way to start the day!
My first workshop was Intro to Lyra and wow, lyra takes some serious hand strength and calluses. But I will not deny that it was fun. Even through the pain, it was all worth it. I know what to look forward to when I get my own lyra setup ready, and now I know some tricks to train as well.
Then as I was stretching in between workshops, Panni Spiers saw me and suggested that I take the Master Contortion workshop. I was honored, I didn’t even realise I could take the class because I didn’t think I was good enough yet. But Panni said that I met the prerequisites, so I thought “Why not?”. I was beyond excited! We began and though I can’t remember exactly what we did, I do remember having a moment of realization. I was much more bendy than I previously thought, mostly when Panni took my arms and bent me backwards while I was lying on the floor. I finally felt confident about my abilities. Not only did I realise that, but I could admire everyone’s abilities in this place and not feel inadequate. We are all at our own levels and we are all here to learn. I wasn’t alone! After that workshop I could not thank Panni enough, and I hope she realises she changed my life in a big way.
After that there was lunch. I had tacos and salad, both of which were delicious. Then there was my third workshop, which was learning how to juggle clubs. I had never learned how to juggle clubs but I juggled 3 bean bags for a minute once and so I thought, “Why not?”. I got up to two for a couple throws but I mostly just tried to find that space between the twist of the wrist and hand placement for the throws. I even ended up juggling bean bags for a break between workshops! The last workshop I took was the original Beginner Contortion class I had been looking forward to. I ended up staying in it because I love stretch training for better form and I love working with Panni.
Then the end of my time was near, but there was one last event to happen. There was a show with different amazing acts. One that really stood out for me was an 8 year old kid who could do diabolos like a professional. He was phenomenal.
Everyone there was phenomenal and I can not thank AYCO enough for making this event happen, or Amy Cohen for telling me about it, or my mother for letting me go. It was one of those moments in my life that I will never forget.