As a young journalist in today's media climate, I am constantly being told that I should consider another career. So, I went to the Philadelphia School of Circus Arts' open house — bravely, perhaps foolishly, hoping to learn a few circus skills and maybe secure a backup job.
Besides educating novices like me, the one-hour workshop on Sunday was intended to give the public a taste of the courses the school at 5900A Greene Street offers. For showing up at the open house, students were promised $50 off any course they decided to take.
"The main goal is to have people experience the space," said executive director Shana Kennedy.
When the woman at the front desk asked me to sign a liability waiver and said, "It just says that this more dangerous than taking a walk," I began to get a little nervous. At 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds, no one has ever described me as being "in shape" and "taking a walk" is about as dangerous as my physical activity gets.
After signing the waiver, I looked around the crowded lobby and realized I was surrounded by young children, ages 6 to 12, and their parents. I was basically the only adult who didn't have a child in tow.
From the lobby, we all moved into the giant, warehouse-like gym with static trapezes, aerial silks and ropes hanging from the ceiling. The group of more than 50 people broke up into small groups, switching from one activity to another.
My group started with juggling. I didn't tell anyone, but I had learned to juggle before, so this was where I expected to shine. Unfortunately, I was only given two juggling balls and wasn't able to show off as much as I had hoped. Also, a young girl managed to take a third ball from her mother and was doing a pretty good job juggling them.
Next we moved to the static trapezes. There were two basic options: one to hang from and one to sit on. It didn't take me long to realize I was too tall to hang from the trapeze. As I pathetically hung from the bar, a little boy laughed at me — waiting for his turn.
The other trapeze was a giant hoop connected to a rope. I sat down inside the hoop and it began spinning in circles. I started getting dizzy and stumbled off into the crowd of parents, who were, perhaps, a little fearful of this random fellow hanging around their children.
After the trapeze, we headed over to the aerial silks — two very long sheets attached to the ceiling and tied in a knot on the bottom. I was expected to step on the knot, grab onto the sheets and balance on one foot as my other foot hung in the air. Right. My foot slipped off the knot as soon as it made contact. I made it on my second try and lifted one foot in the air, holding on to the sheet, fearing for my life. The same skilled juggler flashed me a smug smile as she gracefully balanced on the knot and her father beamed proudly.
The last stage was the tight wire. I was expected to balance my size 13 feet on a thin wire. Luckily, I was two feet off the ground and the instructor, Eric, was there to hold my hand and help me balance. I ignored Eric repeatedly telling me, "Don't look down." Poor Eric had to hold me steady. I was shaking and sweating as I tried to reach the end — which I eventually did.
Thus, I had a brief moment of pride until, at the end, the instructors were asked to show off their skills. Watching a man juggle bowling pins on top of yoga ball is a humbling experience.
As one father told me earlier at the trapeze, "Maybe don't quit your day job."
Icepack Illustrated: Kroll, Starr, Thicke, etc.
If Icepack Illustrated looks a little short this week, it’s due to some physical health issues...
See Braille street art in its unnatural environment — a gallery
Back in August we wrote about Braille street art, the product of a special partnership between...
Huge horror-movie convention happening near Philly this weekend
In its 27th installment, Monster-Mania Con, one of the largest horror-film and memorabilia...