It’s time for a change

February is one of my favorite months!  The days are starting to get longer, it’s a short month so it feels easily accomplished and let’s face it I’m a sucker for Valentine’s Day.

To celebrate Valentine’s Day with all of you I’m posting my new favorite chocolate waffle recipe.  It’s gluten and dairy free, and a great treat after your morning run (feel free to add a little extra protein on the side).

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Go to recipe page.

With no entry since October you must be wondering what I’ve been up to.  Well, I’ve been busy to say the least.  Scroll down to find out more about this circus monsters journey!

Training with Dynamo

Since September I have had the great privilege of training with the renowned physical theatre company for young audiences Dynamo Théâtre. We meet 3 times a week to develop our acrobatic and hand to hand skills.

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When I began working with Dynamo my front handsprings were inconsistent, I couldn’t hold a handstand for longer than 30 sec and I had never partnered with another person.

Now I’m proud to say that I have a clean, consistent front handspring, I’ve done front flips off people shoulders and I’ve even been the base in a 2-high column.

Not only has my training with Dynamo Théâtre strengthened my acrobatic skills, it’s also introduced me to a whole new community of theatre artists in Montreal.  As a bilingual Anglophone entering a Francophone environment I have become more confident communicating in French, which in turn has opened the door to new friendships and hopefully future collaborations.

Not one… but TWO cabarets!

I performed in the “Naughty Parent Cabaret” produced by Krin Haglund from November 30- December 1st 2016.

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Sticking with the theme of “a night of grown-up only fun”, and poking fun at parenthood, (something I know very little about) I decided to go out of my comfort zone a bit.  I created two new pieces for this cabaret.  One was a song (melody borrowed from 4 Non Blonds, “What’s going on”) that I sang while playing the ukulele and the other was a physical comedy piece where I sported a huge baby bump, and struggled to do every day things like tying my shoes.

Naughty Parents Cabaret – Leda Davis from Le Radiant – Krin Haglund on Vimeo.

In January, my husband, and co-collaborator, Jed Tomlinson and I performed a 5-min love story using only legs at the OFFSIDE Wildside Theatre Festival at Centaur.  It was a blast and we look forward to performing together again in the future.

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Grants/ Funding

A big part of being a freelance artist and creating your own work means asking for money.  Since January I have been working on grants to support my project “Persephone Bound”.

Spring 2017 I will be returning to the TOHU for a second creation residency with my team of collaborators.

In the meantime I’m working with an amazing team of dramaturgs at Playwright Workshop Montreal to complete the script for this multi-disciplinary production.

Stay tuned for more information on how you can help support this project!

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Health and Well-being

As always, winter can be a tempting time to over indulge in sugary treats, or over eat while exercising less because it’s so darn cold outside.

That’s why for the month of February I’m going back to the basics. For me that means recording what I eat.  It’s hard to know where I need to make changes to my diet if I don’t have an idea of where I’m slipping in the first place.  Knowledge is power.  That’s why I’m kicking off my health goals this month with the simple task of recording what and when I eat.

You can see an example of the type of food log I like to keep HERE

What do you do to stay on track of your health and wellness goals?  Share in the comment section below.

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Persephone Bound- The Process: Part 1 and 2

“Sans Filet”- La TOHU Montreal, QC Photo Credit: Herve Leblay

“Sans Filet”- La TOHU Montreal, QC
Photo Credit: Herve Leblay

I began the project “Persephone Bound” a year ago, although the experiences that have informed this project, and this method of creation, has been something I have ben developing for quite some time. I don’t recall the exact moment the myth of Persephone became my point of interest either, but I’m grateful it did.  I have always been inspired by Greek Mythology, it’s larger than life nature, it’s dramatic and often devastating stories.  As for the straps, I began taking classes on straps to strengthen my skills on silks.  There was something about the simplicity of the equipment (in shape, not in technique), and the fact that with the straps the body become the main focus, that made me fall in love.  One by one these elements began connecting to each other, and as I researched the story of Persephone, the movement on the straps become even more clear.

Part 1

November 2015

I performed a monologue on the silks  (recovering from an injury meant straps were not possible) at a work-in-progress showcase in Toronto know as AER Time, curated by the talented circus women “Femmes de Feu”.  In a way this performance launched the project.  This was the first time my director (and husband) Jed Tomlinson and I worked together on a show that I had conceptualized, and that he was directing.  Although we have collaborated on many theatre projects in the past (Shhh, Freak Show, and various cabarets).  Jed and I were exploring a new type of process.  We wanted to integrate the movement and text on the aerial equipment as authentically as possible.  Some key things we learnt along the way were:

  • Poetic or virtuous movement is strongest when it is a metaphoric representation of the characters struggle, as opposed to mimicking the words being spoken.
  • All movements need to be carefully selected and justified.
  • The words spoken must be honest.

What is Virtuostic Movement?

To me, virtuostic movement is a demonstration of skill.  For example, in Ballet, a virtuostic movement might be a series of fuettes.  Usually this is a movement that the audience sees that they recognize as difficult, or that they themselves can’t do.

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Circus is ALL about virtuostic movement.  The emphasis in contemporary circus is on skill level and technique.

But, I’m a theatre artist and I believe in storytelling.  I’m also a professional circus artist and I can do some pretty crazy things with my body.  What Jed and I discovered was that if you’re going to put these movements, like the splits for example, into a performance it is important that the movement is justified, honest and it should avoid being a literal representation of what the character is saying.

The performance at AER Time in Toronto was a vital first step to our project.  Adam Lazerus, a well know physical theatre creator and performer in Toronto facilitated the talk-back afterwards and also gave us many good questions to reflect on.

Find out more about Femmes du Feu and AER Time HERE

December-May

The project didn’t end at this 10-min presentation.  I took all I had learnt from this experience and went to work.  For the next 6 months I wrote, and re-wrote my script.  I would trained rigorously on the straps.  My goal was to gain as much strength, endurance and straps vocabulary as possible, so that when we entered into creation mode I would be ready.

Authentic Movement in the air:

On some of my training days I focused on creation.  I took a theme, an image or an emotion that I was writing about in the script and I embodied that thought or image while in the equipment.  This technique is inspired by Authentic Movement and my movement training with Val Campbell.  While traditional Authentic Movement is not usually performed alone, I was able to glean from its guiding principals.  With eyes closed I dropped the thought, or feeling into my body and I allowed my body to organically respond to it’s own internal clues.  Using this technique I was able to discover new movements, new pathways, new ways of using the equipment.  Now, instead of only having my wrists in the straps I had my legs, waist and even neck in the strap loops.

Authentic Movement:

Authentic movement was pioneered by Mary Whitehouse, and later was transformed into lay-practice by Janet Adler  It is a movement practice that “physicalizes the active imagination”, where the mover and witness is asked to suspend judgement, interpretation and projection.  (Recommended reading: Authentic Movement: Essays by Mary Starks Whitehouse, Janet Adler and Joan Chodorow)

All of this ground work was ensuring that my movements and text were authentic, and honest.  And, because I was creating both the text and the movement at the same time I was ensuring that my choices were remaining justified.

Here’s an example of one of those movement explorations:

Part 2

June- July

At the end of June I began a 3-week creation blitz.  I had the great fortune of getting a research and creation residency with La TOHU.  These residencies are offered by La TOHU with the aim to “stimulate the evolution of circus aesthetics. It encourages the exploration of new forms and practices in the field by offering a space dedicated to research activities and innovative initiatives.” (http://tohu.ca/en/services/artists-services/research-and-creative-residences/)

During my 3-week creation period with Persephone Bound, it was vital to my process that the movement and the text were developed together in an organic way. The following is a brief overview of how that process was realized.

Text Process

I wrote the first draft of the script before the rehearsals started.  Jed and I had several discussions about the content beforehand, and I wrote several other subsequent drafts.

I wanted to have a script as a frame work.  I find it very helpful with devised theatre to have a text to work with, even if that text will change, and boy, did it ever change.

On the first day of our creation workshop we wrote down all the scenes on sticky notes and put them up on the wall.  Then we literally cut up all the different versions of the script and placed the parts we liked under each scene.

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Jed- At The Screaming Goat Collective Studio

Cut Ups and Sticky Notes

Example of the cut up script (Screaming Goats Collective Studio)

Whenever we’d reach a hurdle in terms of the story line, we would begin a movement exploration or clown improvisation exercise.

Movement Process

The process for developing the movement, as well as applying the text to the movement was as follows….

1- Authentic Movement practice

Either Jed or myself would be ‘the mover’, and the other would act as ‘the witness’.  The mover would drop an intention, word or character into their body.  Then with eyes closed, they would let their body respond through movement to that intention word or thought.  Sometimes sound or words would also come out.  Once the mover felt like their expression of that thought was complete they would stop and open their eyes.  Then the witness would repeat certain things that they saw.  This was a technique I had used with Val Campbell when creating another solo show of mine “The Disembodied Lady”.

2- Gesture

After the Authentic Movement practice was complete I would then select some of the movements and develop them into gestures.  Anne Bogart and Tina Landau describe gesture in their book The Viewpoints Book: A Practical Guide to Viewpoints and Composition as: “A shape with a beginning, a middle and an end” (p.9).  When I’m turning an organic movement into a gesture, I’m defining it’s beginning middle and end.  I’m memorizing it, and being as specific as I can with it.  Bogart and Landau go even further to breakdown gestures into “Behavioural Gestures” which “belongs to the concrete, physical world of human behaviour” (p. 9)  and Expressive Gestures which “ express an inner state, an emotion, a desire, an idea or a value” (P. 10).  The gestures  that I was refining from the Authentic Movement practice were Expressive Gestures.

3- Work with choreographer to build movement phrases

Once I had collected enough gestures I began working with my choreographer, Lucie Vigneault, to expand the gestures into movement phrases.  I like to describe a movement phrase as: a series of gestures with a beginning, a middle and an end.  Something that Lucie helped me with was ensuring that the gestures didn’t become false once I incorporated them into a movement phrase.  As if the gestures were words, and the movement phrase was a sentence.

The gesture cannot be an over exaggeration, or a demonstration of what you are already saying. If this happens the movement risks seeming false, exaggerated or unnecessary. The gesture is an opportunity to layer poetic suggestions or themes.- Notes from rehearsal

 

4- Apply the gestures and movement phrases to the aerial equipment through open improvisation with live percussion

From the beginning I had a desire to incorporate live percussion into this project.  Luckily, I had an insanely talented team of people working with me on this project, and Jed was one of them.  Besides being my director, Jed is also an experience drummer and he would accompany me live during our rehearsals at the National Circus School.  In an open improvisation structure,  Jed would play different rhythms on the drums and I would improvise with the movement phrases I had developed with Lucie, only this time I would incorporate them on the aerial equipment.

At the end of the improvisations we would take an inventory of the sequences on the equipment that we liked and ask ourselves if we saw any possibility for them to be included in the show.  After that we would apply the text.

Sometimes the sequences were never put up in the air, but we would follow a similar process: Authentic Movement, Gesture, Movement phrase and apply movement to text.

Straps & Text Exploration

Here I am exploring some text in the equipment

Other times we would take a step back from the open improvisation and use other strategies such as:

  1. Exploring the aerial equipment as Architecture
  2. Using Open Viewpoints to develop new floor patterns, or try integrating the text in a new way.

It is important to note that the development of text and movement was happening simultaneously. This is key, because one would often influence another. We would begin the day working on the text, applying what we had discovered in the movement exploration the day before, and in the afternoon we would apply the changes in the script to new movement vocabularies.

This would happen continuously throughout the process.  Writing, cut-ups, movement exploration, repeat.

I also feel compelled to mention that we had a lighting designer, Luc Valée drop-in to a couple of our rehearsals to offer his perspective.  We would show him our progress and he would offer us ideas either for the script or for the staging.  I can’t wait to perform the full length show with his ideas!

Although we were not able to present a full-length performance of the new work in this particular residency, we were able to participate in a Sans-Filet hosted by La TOHU.  “ A jump into the void” as the name suggests, the Sans-Filet was a public presentation of works-in-progress by various circus artists in Montreal, QC.  We had decided to perform the opening section of the play, which begins by interacting with the audience, leading up to a 5 min performance on the straps. The presentation took place in front of nearly 800 people, and our act was warmly received by the audience.

Here is a sample of the work so far:

 

Thank you for continuing to support this project.  More updates on the process and the project development to come!

 

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Strong Woman

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I was talking to a friend the other day, who was telling me how, unfortunately for her, she develops muscle really easily.  In order to rectify this muscle gaining “issue” she has sworn off any physical activity that might make her body, specifically her arms, too bulky.

 

Her main fear being that if she gains too much muscle she will look MANLY.

Let’s talk about this!

“By disallowing ourselves as women to portray strength we are indirectly contributing to the notion that women should be frail, soft, weak […]”

For one… Why are we as a society accepting this idea that a strong woman is UNATTRACTIVE?  To me a strong body, on any gender, is a demonstration of confidence, independence, health, longevity.  That’s a pretty sexy list right there.

By disallowing ourselves as women to portray strength we are indirectly contributing to the notion that women should be frail, soft, weak; and, that men should be muscular, strong and powerful.

Why is a muscular body on a woman associated with so much negativity?

How is this:

Less SEXY than this…

 

Strength is not only about aesthetics, it’s also about HEALTH!

Now, it s not my intention to get into a big gender debate, so allow me to also remind you of some facts…Strength is not only about aesthetics, it’s also about HEALTH!

Strength training has repeatedly been associated with the reduction of bone loss.  T.V. Nguyen in his article Bone Loss, Physical Activity, and Weight Change in Elderly Women: The Dubbo Osteoporosis Epidemiology Study explains that: “From a public health viewpoint, physical activity has long been advocated as a component of a healthy lifestyle,43 in part in relation to osteoporosis prevention.” In Nguyen’s extensive study he concludes that : “active women had minimal or no bone loss, while less active and sedentary women experienced significant reductions in bone density.”

These are FACTS, I’m not making them up!

By building muscle you are not only helping reduce body fat, you are helping your body live longer.

Here are some more advantages to weight training, as outline by the Mayo Clinic:

  • Develop strong bones. By stressing your bones, strength training can increase bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
  • Manage your weight. Strength training can help you manage or lose weight, and it can increase your metabolism to help you burn more calories.
  • Enhance your quality of life. Strength training may enhance your quality of life and improve your ability to do everyday activities. Building muscle also can contribute to better balance and may reduce your risk of falls. This can help you maintain independence as you age.
  • Manage chronic conditions. Strength training can reduce the signs and symptoms of many chronic conditions, such as arthritis, back pain, obesity, heart disease, depression and diabetes.
  • Sharpen your thinking skills. Some research suggests that regular strength training and aerobic exercise may help improve thinking and learning skills for older adults.

I work really hard to build muscle. I recognize that my passion for this might be greater than the average person.  However, you don’t have to be a professional circus artist or an athlete to be healthy, 2 weight training sessions a week can make all the difference.

By making myself stronger I’m not only contributing to my ability to excel in my chosen artistic discipline, I’m also helping myself live a longer, happier life.  I will not sit idly-by and allow my body to degenerate, in order to support the notion that as a woman I am not supposed to look strong.  Muscles are sexy on everyone, because healthy is sexy on everyone.  Now go out there and lift some weights!

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August 20, 2016 · 2:15 pm

Me and my straps

The road to creation is never a straight line.

It’s December.  By now I’ve been training on straps consistently since August and it’s time, time for me to buy my own equipment so I can do the things I set out to do.

Traditionally aerial straps are used for conditioning and performing feats of strength.   The loops at the end of the 9 feet long cotton covered polyester straps are used for the circus artist’s wrists so that he/ she can hang, twist, and suspend in the air. But I my intentions are different.  My goal is to dance in the straps. I want to slip my legs and neck through the straps.  I want to translate my vocabulary on silks onto this new equipment.

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Straps Exploration at the National Circus School in Montreal

And so, before I head off for a tour, I decide to order my very own, custom made straps.  I want them to be long so I can perform dynamic drops, I want the loops to be wide so I can hang from different body parts and I want the fabric to be soft so that I don’t rip my skin to shreds.

As we know, buying things off the Internet can be risky.  A year and a half ago, when I was buying a new pair of silks I made the mistake of ordering the fabric too short (11 yards).  Then, because I placed the order in the USA, I had to go through a big ordeal with Canada Customs, who decide to charge me an exorbitant amount of money in customs fee (which I was later able to get refunded).    This time I was smart.  I did my research.  I made sure to order from a reputable company, which specialized in selling high quality aerial equipment.  I made sure to measure the length of the loop I wanted.  I ordered from a Canadian company, so I didn’t have to worry about customs, or the high US dollar.  But, as it is with the creative process, things went… differently than my perfectly laid out plan.

It was 2 weeks before I was scheduled to leave for my tour.  My straps arrived and I was SO excited!  I opened the package… But they were the wrong color, the wrong loop size and the wrong material.  How could this happen? I specifically asked for cotton covered straps and instead I received aramid fiber (must more abrasive).  I called the company.  The customer service representative didn’t speak “circus” and explained that the owner was out of town.  When I finally get a hold of the owner, he told me that if I mailed the straps back, and drove out to the factory to pick up the new pair, I could have my order fixed and ready before I left town.  GREAT!  I sent back the straps.  When I got the new straps (generously picked-up by my husband!) and open the package…  They’re too long, they were the wrong color, and they were too wide.  “I’ll never be able to work with these”, I cry out.

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More exploration on straps at the National Circus School in Montreal

I call my friend and ask her to come over, and through my tears, I show her the equipment.  She looks at them and shrugs: “You can make these work.  They’re not that bad.  And it’s good that their long.  We can make a temporary knot in them for when you’re training with lower ceilings.”  I sigh.  “Ok”, I say, “I’ll try them out.  Worst comes to worst I’ll sell them”.  So I bring them to the studio the next day.  My friend helps me tie the temporary knot, and… It’s not so bad.

In the end I did take the straps on tour with me, and I made an effort to train on the equipment whenever I could.

When I got back home, I went to the National Circus School to train, where I knew I could hang the straps without worrying about their length.  The first day I hung my straps in the new space, a fellow artist came up to me and commented: “Wow, those are so cool.  You have so many movement possibilities”, and another said: “I like your straps!  Their really unique.

Unique.  That’s exactly what I had wanted them to be.  Suddenly… I’m in love.

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My first “flag” on Staps at the National Circus School in Montreal

Now I’m going to the studio to train every night that I can.  I can’t get enough.  I have embraced the challenge, and accepted that these straps are different.  Just like me.

Sometimes you’ve got to go with what you’ve got.  Sometimes, trusting in the unknown is what makes the magic happen.

Up Coming…

We’ve launched our new studio!

The Screaming Goats Collective

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Here’s my husband Jed working hard on the new studio!

We produced our first workshop “Intro to Pochinko Clown”, taught by Jed Tomlinson at the beginning of May.

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Next, we are excited to present the “Get Off You A$$ Creation Lab

This 17.5 hour long workshop will provide you with a variety of tools on how to generate new material and create a unique performance.

Visit our facebook page for more details (https://www.facebook.com/screaminggoatscollective/)

Persephone Bound

I’m honored to announce that my project: “Persephone Bound”  has been accepted for a creation residency curated by the TOHU.  This creation residency will allow me to rehears for 33 hours with my director, choreographer and designer at the National Circus School. At the end of our creation period, there will be a work-in-progress presentation to an invited audience.  More dates and details to come…

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May 17, 2016 · 9:57 pm

And then I ran up a mountain…

It’s noon, on a drizzly Tuesday.  I go to the staff washroom, put on my leggings and lace up my runners. As I head down the elevator my co-worker smilesShoes_MTL at me “Going for a jog?”  “yup, I’m headed up the mountain”, I say with a sigh.  This has been my by weekly ritual for the past two months.

Outside is chilly, and although it’s December winter hasn’t hit the city yet, and in a few strides down the sidewalk I’m already feeling warm.

The climb up the mountain starts on the corner of Sherbrooke Ouest and Peel.  It’s a straight climb until you reach the base of the park, and then after a short series of stairs you find yourself on a winding path in the forest.  The city disappimage4ears.  Only the sounds of the birds and your runners hitting the dirt road are present.

This is where I work through my thoughts.  This run is my chance to reconnect with my body and my breath.  To let go of pain, and to let inspiration in.

In the past few months I have faced  a series of injuries, health issues, and personal difficulties and my training has been sporadic.  I still make an effort to get on the circus equipment, and do my sit-ups, but my focus has been elsewhere.  On the path, my focus is living.

As I climb up the mountain I’m alone.  Once I’ve burned through my anger, and pushed past fear, all that’s left is love and breath.

At the top of the mountain is “Beaver Lake”.  The first time I saw it I couldn’t believe it existed.  “There’s a lake up there and I had no idea!”, I told my coworkers the first time I made it all the way up the hill.   This time of year the lake is almost always deserted.  The water is still, like glass.  I stop to look over the water, conjuring the calm surrounding to slow my heart beat which is still trying to catch up with my feet.  As I pause, I’m reminded that there is more to life than what’s inside my head.  There is more than my computer, or my cup of coffee, or my future.

Then, after a 60 sec rest, I start back down the way I came.

The way down is almost as thrilling as the way up.  My stride gets longer and longer as I give into the incline.  I pick up my pace with ease.  The climb up is a fight, but the way down is modestly satisfying.  On the way down, I don’t need to work as hard, and my breath is easy.  I can turn my attention to release.  Letting go of the pain in my rib, or hip, or heart.  I can turn my gaze up, instead of 2 inches in front of me.  It takes me almost half the time to go down the mountain than it did forimage5
me to climb up.  I leap over the curbs of the sidewalk and dodge the letter carriers.   I race out of the forest and back into the city.

Back in the elevator on my way back up to my desk I have no regrets.

I didn’t make it all the way up the mountain the first time.  I got half way and turned around.  There are still some days  I don’t make it all the way up.  But, that’s not the point.  The run is not about reaching the lake.  Sometimes I have the urge to dig deep and keep going, sometimes it’s calling out my name, and sometimes I pat myself on the back just for lacing up my shoes and g
etting outside.

Mount Royal is a far cry from the Rockies, but the air and the quiet remind me of home.

I have no idea what this next year has in store.  I have no concrete plans or destination.  There will be uphill climbs, and downhill sprints, and hopefully a few moments of stillness at the top.

 

Happy Holidays.Leda_Mountain

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“All or nothing” and other cliches

Go after you what you want.  Do whatever it takes. Never stop. Just do it.

 How far is too far.  Where do we draw the line?


For the past month and a half I have been going though some big transitions in my life.
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I completed my Precision Nutrition Certification, I moved apartments, and I went to the Manitoulin Conservatory for Creation and Performance (a.k.a. The Clown Farm) and New York.  I also completed a huge project called The Tale of a Town– Quebec.
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Although I’m still feeding the circus monster, I have also taken time-off, as well as started a temporary day job.

These changes were hard for me to accept at first. Old ways of thinking were playing on repeat in my brain. “Real art requires sacrifice” and “If you want it, you have to live and breath it”But the truth is that “real art”, whatever that is, needs a solid foundation in order to be able to grow.

“Like a bridge that needs to be anchored to the ocean floor and connected by great iron cables to the shore, creative people need multiple support structures so they don’t float away to some distant professional reef like like insurance or thumbtack distribution.  Your will alone cannot keep you in place. You need support systems to help you.”- Carol Lloyd, Creating A Life Worth Living

For me that support system included a job. The more I practice, the more I have realized that there must be a live/ work balance in everything that I do in order to create good art and be happy.  And happiness in life is kinda the whole point.

“Living and breathing your art”– As an artist I feel as though it is my job to reflect life.  If I’m not living my life ( i.e. going outside, hanging out with friends, trying new things) how can I effectively interpret and challenge what is happening in the world?

“All or nothing”– As I mentioned at the beginning, I did take some time off this summer and returning to training has been a bit jerky with various starts and stops. When I came back to training I was searching for the bottom line.  What is the least I could do to maximize my time, while still getting results.

If you are an athlete, or any human really, and you wake up sore every day, unmotivated to do what you used to make you happy, you may be doing too much.  Yes, there is such thing “as too much of a good thing” (even though that cliche doesn’t seem to be on our radar as much as the others).

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5 Things Contemporary Circus Has Taught Me

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A view from above #MTL

 

This is my two year blog-anniversary and the marker of when I moved to Montreal to pursue a professional career in Contemporary Circus!

I don’t know if I’ve “made it”, and my definition of success continues to evolve. However, I have learnt many things these past two years and circus has certainly challenged my “artist-self” in ways I had never imagined.

1-Strength is a skill.

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Weight, repetitions and sets are nothing but numbers. If you want to be “strong” you need to practice. You need to give you body time to catch up with what you’re asking it to do. Which often means doing something over and over again until new muscle pathways have been built. You need to be patient.

2- Be patient.

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Little ants working hard to make this flower come to life.

The reason the phrase “never give up” has impact is because getting to the finish line (if that even exists) takes a lot longer than an initial plan might suggest.   Although I like to prescribe the philosophy that almost anything is possible, sometimes what we want, and where we want to go takes longer than that what we might imagine. Therefore, it is important to remember to be patient, stay present and enjoy the ride.

3- Balance is Key.

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This is how I do business.

 

I’m an over achiever, and I used to think that in order for me to be good enough, and in order to succeed, I needed to be working hard, every minute of everyday. I’ll admit this has been a hard one for me to let go of. I still have a tendency to overload my schedule, and feel like I need to be doing a million things in order to prove my worth. But the truth is that we progress more when we focus on simple, step by step goals, and we leave room in our life for rest, relaxation and other pass times. This goes for diet too. An overly restricted diet only seems to make me want to binge more, and promotes an unhealthy relationship with food and my body image.

4- I am an artist, not just an athlete.

Statue_Ballerina_MWTB_Ottawa

Statue Animation with Move with the Beat in Ottawa, ON

I am proud of how I have managed to transform my body composition, and the skills and stamina I have gained. However, pull ups and fancy aerial drops are only part of the package. I enjoy the physical challenge that circus offers, but I also need to honour the fact that I am a creator, interpreter and leader. I want the stories I create to make my audience feel something, and I also want to feel something when I’m on stage. I’m excited by the potential contemporary circus has to not only inspire minds, but evoke emotion and thought.

5- Care enough not to care

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Goober, the cat, knows how to chill.

This is a clown rule that I learnt when I studied baby clown two summers ago at the Manitoulin Conservatory for creation and performance. This is how I interpret it: sometimes when we want something to happen we push hard, we think hard, we do as much as we can, all at the same time. When we do this, not only do we tend to feel stressed or anxious, also have a tendency to miss the magic. In theatre we use the term intention. In a scene an actor will use intentions to help drive their emotional journey. However, if the whole time that actor is trying exclusively to pursue his/her intention, they can forget to listen and react to what is happening in the moment. The result is that things feel forced and untruthful. It’s the same in circus. If we are constantly trying to impress, to get every move right, to remember every physical nuance, we miss out on the opportunity to express the movement. More often than not, when I’m thinking the whole time, instead of letting my body take over, I’m less likely to land my hard skill. You don’t have to turn off your brain completely, just care enough, not to care.

 

With that in mind, I’m excited to launch into a whole bunch of new projects and adventures this summer.

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Two weeks ago I participated in an incredible week of contemporary circus and creation called Circus Sessions.  It took place in Toronto and it was presented by Anandam Dance Theatre, A Girl in the Sky Productions, Femmes du Feu and AER Time. If you are interested in more information about contemporary circus in Canada these companies are a great place to start.

Next up, I will be traveling to Sorel, QC as a part of The Tale of a Town with FIXT Point Theater, and of course Montreal is about to launch into festival mode with Montréal Complètement Cirque, International Festival de Jazz, Just for Laughs and much more!

Stay tuned…

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