Many years ago, in ye Days of Olde, I made like a ballerina. I danced quite a bit from elementary school through college, and a little when I moved to NYC (nothing terribly amazing). Man – there is nothing like staring at yourself in a leotard and tights in a full length mirror for four hours a day to make you painfully hyper-aware of your body! See, I’ve always been just a little too much in every way – a little too loud, a little too opinionated, a little too big for pointe shoes. Then, I found circus. And suddenly, I was just right.
What’s the difference? I mean, let’s be candid – I’m expected to be fit and and fabulous for my job. Why did I feel like I had struck body image gold? Because suddenly, the emphasis was off my body shape, and onto the amazing things I could make it do. Instead of looking at fellow artists and wondering how I could get that thin, I wondered how I could get that strong, or flexible, or engaging. I cried with joy (and pure amazement) when I did my first full pull-up, and it felt like Christmas morning every time I found a new muscle. It felt so good to celebrate my body instead of fight it!
Body Beautiful: Learning to Appriciate Your Miracle
One of the things I love most about circus is the sheer variety of bodies and the incredible things they can do. Long and willowy, compact and powerful, generously sensual, tight and angular, and everything in between. Not to get all woo-woo-touchy-feely with you here, but there really is only one you – one body just like yours. Try this (actually do it you’ll be glad you did).
where are you strong?
where are you flexible?
where are you weak?
what is uniquely beautiful about your body?
what do you love about the way you move?
That – right there – is the blueprint for your training! Train to your strengths, work on your weak spots, focus on cultivating your own beautiful style. I’m not going to lie – if you are significantly over or under weight, very tight in the muscles, or are working around a dodgy fill-in-the-blank, the work has to be modified. But so what? It doesn’t mean you don’t start. It means you modify.
Circus has room for every body, every age, every creative soul who just doesn’t feel like being bound by gravity today. Don’t get me wrong – I still love to dance. And I understand the emphasis on body shape. I do. I’m just opting out, and I invite you to do the same. Are you more lush than lithe? More angular than agile? More chutzpa than hero? There is room for you in this wonderful community. Circus doesn’t demand that you start with a certain shape, or that you be able to do 20 pull-ups on day one while sitting on your own head. It DOES demand that you put in the time, do the work (without whining), and understand that amazing things take time to train up to. Here’s to the journey! Love and pull-ups, Laura
As always, if you like this post, share it on your blog, the F-books, Twitter, and wherever else you crazy kids are sharing things these days.