By Lyra Gross
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit,” – Deb Peters. When progressing in new circus acts, it can often feel burdensome to keep your toes pointed, or make sure your legs are straight. Over all, maintaining good technique is HARD and can be frustrating. To present your talents with competence you must develop good habits. This article will provide you with examples on how to develop clean skills and sequences as well as sustain your polished tricks for future needs.
Option 1, the physical approach: This strategy when learning new skills can be harsh but effective. The physical approach is when you temporarily force yourself to keep good form by creating physical drills and or obstacles. I, as an aerialist, personally found this option to be quite helpful when trying to keep my toes pointed. I was working on a new sequence, but no matter how hard I tried I would always sickle my toe when getting into a specific position.
Therefore, I decided to google some tips! After a while of searching I discovered this girl who used toothpicks to keep her ankles in place. She would tape a toothpick to the side of her foot, causing her to feel a little prick every time she sickled. At first I thought it was quite a severe approach to the problem, but then, because I was desperate, I tried it. It worked spectacularly! I tried it once and after that I never had a problem with sickling my toe in that skill again. This tactic works well because it triggers a fear instinct in your brain, causing you to act quickly. This approach, although it isn’t for everyone, can give you fast and clean results.
Option 2, the visual approach: The next approach to be explained takes time and patience, but will give you helpful, long lasting results. The visual approach is when you either practice in front of a mirror, video yourself, or find another way to see yourself when you are training. This tends to be helpful when adjusting even the slightest details in acts or sequences. For example, I found this strategy useful when I was creating my hand balancing act. I had the strength and flexibility to create an act, but when it came to clean transitions I wasn’t sure where to start. It might come as a surprise to you, but it’s very hard to know how you look when you’re upside down and your legs are above your head. I was stumped, so once again I decided to google some tips! I was scrolling for ideas but nothing I found seemed to help me. I then realized from watching videos, that videotaping myself might be a solution. I tried it and after a week’s worth of practice I had a clean, fully developed hand balancing act! This circus tip takes time, but it will overall help you not only make your sequences look better, but also help you develop your own style when creating an act.
Option 3, the social approach: This process is a difficult habit to start, but is consistent, easy, and will help you gain better performing and physical skills. The social approach is all about finding the right people and environment to train in. This strategy truly varies depending on what type of person you are. I find that training with people more advanced helps me stay motivated.This is because I work well under pressure and function better when I’m trying to catch up to everyone else. Meanwhile, a friend of mine feels more comfortable and willing to train when he’s with less advanced people. This is because he feels more confident in this type of environment, causing him to work harder to create a good example for others. Therefore I advise you to really branch out with this strategy and try training with a wide variety of people. See what works for you!
Remember, I’m basing these techniques off of my own experiences, but my story is not the only one. Feel free to use these concepts and make them your own! Experiment and enjoy the learning process! I hope you found this article intriguing and helpful.