Directing Circus Theatre

I HOPE YOU WILL HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO SEE THE NEW SHOW “AMMORE AMMARE” – “Love Overboard” with Ale and Martino from Spazio Kabum in Varese.

We have just finished a two week creative residency where they had invited me to direct.

The creation of a show “from nothing” is never simple but every day we made huge steps. Really!

I was amazed at the ideas that came from intuitions, deep listening and building everything around the story that was emerging. I am amazed at how even the smallest changes led to a much more true and heartfelt recitation of the characters and how this touched me.

We quickly created new acts within the show. Then we refined them. Adding and removing the superfluous to get to the very heart of the piece.

Every day we started early with a very varied Yoga practice, aimed at opening the breathing, waking up the body and the senses, focusing the mind and charging ourselves with energy! After breakfast followed by a concentrated juggling practice and fun session then immediately to the work of creation and interpretation.

Even though the process was very intense, there was no overwhelming stress or worry that we didn’t have enough time. How beautiful!

Ale and Martino have a mastery of juggling techniques (more Martino than Ale), aerial acrobatics with Alessandra on her Circle and Partner Acrobatic’s. The story of their two characters, that emerged day after day, portrays a story that will touch the hearts of all those lucky enough to see it. Fake acting only really happens when you don’t really know why you perform that or this action. When the context is clear the acting becomes much better.

It was not my first role as a director but I’m happy because this experience has reconfirmed my ability to take on the role and responsibility as a director of Theater-Circus Performances. It totally engages me, I put my whole self in and take out the best for the show. It hasn’t left me feeling exhausted, on the contrary and this for me is a good sign that it’s something I should consider offering a couple of times a year. I’m open to accepting new proposals from those who want to bring a message through their circus disciplines. My recommendation would be to take part in one of my workshops first. Then perhaps we could discuss this more a length.

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so much in just a few days

Hello, just back from teaching at the intensive residential in Tuscany.

It was beautiful to see how each participant improved day after day towards a truly free juggling.

A few quick vids and photos can be found here: https://www.instagram.com/pearlsofjuggling/

This time the group was just men, it happens sometimes, and created a very special protected atmosphere in which to create.

Can’t wait for the Ten dayer from the 10 dayer, 1-10 August, always in Tuscany, there’s a great group of participants from all over Europe.

There are still a couple of places left if anyone is interested.
If not see you in Frieburg or at the EJC!

First article on EJuggle – Fluid Juggling

Here it is. My first of five articles to be pubblished on Ejuggle.

Would be great to hear what you think.

“Fluid juggling is the term I have coined for my work on Juggling and Movement.

It is the moment in which we stop “practising” and instead just have fun with our props and body at our current level of technique. The emphasis is on the pleasure that a trick gives us when we become fully aware of our body and the space around us—we are the centre of a sphere and anything is possible. We accept everything and no trick or throw (or movement) is discarded as being “too easy” as long as fully aware.….

https://www.juggle.org/fluid-juggling-pearls-juggling-articles/

 

 

Pearls of Juggling to the USA

Until now in these two years I’ve been exclusively to conventions and meetings in Europe. My desire is to go to the International Jugglers Association (IJA) Convention this July in Iowa, USA. It’s the longest running convention in the world and will be celebrating it’s 70th edition this year. It’s a convergence of some of the best jugglers in the world.

My plan is also to stop off at New York to meet the Bryant Park Jugglers

I’m funding my trip with donations in exchange for signed copies of my book.

Thanks for your support 🙂

www.fundmytravel.com/campaign/85uKaYVlhb

Getting unstuck using your back!

Getting unstuck using your back!

At a certain point progress in Juggling can stall.

It happens.

There are tons of reasons for this that I’m not going to go into here.

Its often a normal part of the learning process with ups and downs and plateaus. “Progress” is mostly non-linear but sometimes we can really feel stuck and start losing fun. The fun may still be there but perhaps you’d like to make a leap with your technical and creative abilities.

To help get out of this sticky feeling why not try something completely different!

Perhaps change the way you see juggling,

ask yourself new questions,

meet other jugglers,

or what I’d like to propose today: INCREASE YOUR BODY AWARENESS and in particular that of your spine.
backbone42

The spine is a massive organization of bones, cartilage, tissues, fascia, nerves and lots of muscles that all cooperate together and amongst other roles consents us to stay upright. When working well the spine connects the upper and lower parts of the body and supports harmonious and functional movement. When the spine is at the centre of our movements everything is organised better. The spine becomes a central axis around which everything else irradiates. This includes juggling. Shoulders and hips can relax and soften as arms and legs are more connected to our axis and allow for more precision and elegance. In Taichi and Yoga much attention is put into waking up the spine and giving it a life of its own.

“Correct” or functional posture emerges from this but the work is best when done from inside out through awareness and feeling without imposing a certain form on the spine as this may lead to rigidity. The head gently stretches upwards lengthening the back of the neck, while the lower part of the spine pulls downwards towards the ground with the tail bone gently tucked in.

When, through weeks, months and years of practice with awareness our spine starts to come alive we become more focused, have more energy and are able to move in a much more organic way.

back exerciseOur Juggling can improve greatly after even a few exercises before training with props. Aim at lengthening, bringing in awareness and making the spine as flexible as a shower cable.

Working (or playing) with images of the spine as flexible as willow branches and as strong as a steel spring can help even more. Play with cats, especially kittens, and feel how flexible their backbone is.

Move your body in a way that feels good to you while listening to the spine can be enough to become much more aware. Feel how reaching out with arms and legs connect parts of the body all the way through the axis. Experiment with twisting too.

Try out these ideas with and without props and see how much this can help bring your juggling to a new level of satisfaction!

Love to hear your thoughts.

Have fun playing, exploring and juggling!

 

FINDING THE GAME (in juggling)

 Hi juggling artists!

In Pearls of Juggling there’s a short mention on FINDING THE GAME. This concept actually finds its way throughout the whole book and throughout most of my work.

I’ve just come back from teaching my FLUID JUGGLING lab in north Italy at SPAZIO KABUM. (Great space and great participants, relaxed but at the same time very intense I’ve added a few pics and micro-videos on FB and Instagram).
There I was inspired to go a little more into detail on just what is this “Finding the game”.

This is really fundamental for the whole of juggling
Without it you will quickly lose interest. But how to even start looking for the game? What is it all about?

Like much of what we do we aren’t fully aware of this process and we find “games” in a rather random way.
Once we realise how it works we can use it to our advantage. Great.

The most common game in Juggling is probably the one more prop challenge. Trying for the ever more difficult. We get into this game and get excited about it. Another game is collecting tricks. Nowadays we can also find the game though the multitude of siteswaps and their combinations.

Whenever we learn something new we get stimulated to try more and more. In a certain way the game is competing with ourselves.

THIS IS NOT THE ONLY POSSIBILITY

We can also obtain a sense of playing and being absorbed while manipulating just one object and not even doing anything particularly difficult. HOW?

Often in our regular rather haphazard way of training we just don’t find the game. Or else we have so much structure in our training that there is just no space for it. Often we find it in moments and then we lose it.

To find the game without the “ever more difficult” try things out in a light-hearted way until you come across something that tickles your fancy. It could be something really simple or a combination that you never thought about before. Then just dive into it and find all the different ways there are of making that one throw and catch (or roll or whatever).

Play with your body too, get it involved. Move with the movement of the object being manipulated or move against it. Try other body positions. Vary your speed and quality. Make it bigger and smaller. You’ll soon find you are playing and questions will start to pop into your head? The what ifs. What if I try it this way or that way. Let it develop into something completely different. Add another object and then another finding ways that aren’t always the most obvious of inserting them.

Basically juggling feels great when it feels like a game.

It could be well worth training in a way where we find ourselves constantly playing and creating new games. New rules for old games and old rules for new ones.
Performances with also gain much from all the original material that comes out.

The possibilities are endless but to find the game we first need to home in on something and let it grow. In a sense its the opposite of pure exploration, explore until you can find something identifiable and expanding on that you find the game!

This is what I mean by keep having fun.

Thanks for reading!

Juggling Adventures – 12-16 June and 1-10 August

Pearls of Juggling Residential Intensive Workshops in Tuscany 2017

Join me for a Juggling Adventure!!!

Dear Juggling friends here’s news about two residential workshops Anthony is holding this summer.
Don’t hesitate to write if you have any questions.
Registration opens on the first of March.
jugglingisart@gmail.com

Held by Anthony Trahair, author of Pearls of Juggling
In Tuscany, Gricigliana (Prato), Associazione Venti di Terra –
in a old stone farm building surrounded by nature, far away from distractions, a full immersion into the Art of juggling, in a friendly and inspiring environment.

“The creative process is varied and exciting, alternating individual and group work. Efficient to integrate into your personal training.”

12-16 June 2017 – Physicality of Juggling The basis of creative and expressive juggling. All work is specific for jugglers and flow artists. Juggling and movement. Inspired training. Qi Gong, Tai Chi and Yoga. Laban. Musicality. Creation of sequences and mini routines. Move and juggle with increased confidence and presence. New training ideas. Tap into your creativity while having more fun.
Only 12 places available.
Early bird price before 28th of April. Registration opens on the first of March. Info and registration: jugglingisart@gmail.com

1-10 August 2017 – Pearls of Juggling International Summer School. Ten day intensive. All work is specific for jugglers and flow artists. Juggling and movement. Inspired training. Qi Gong, Tai Chi and Yoga. Physical acting and lots of improvisations. Creation of sequences, routines and act development. Gradually working towards the final presentation of original and new material. Perform with more confidence and originality while improving technique, creativity and expression.
Only 12 places available. Early bird price before 28th of May. Registration opens on the first of March. Info and registration: jugglingisart@gmail.com

Requirements
Willingness to learn and the desire to dive fully into the art of juggling in a group setting. A minimum basis of juggling with three objects is required but there is no maximum level.

All lessons will be held in English.

Meeting point at 3pm at Vaiano train station.

Vegetarian meals will be prepared in rotation by the participants. Accommodation in the common room or some rooms of 2 or 3 people (at a small extra fee).

Anthony Trahair explores the art of juggling for the last two decades. His residential seminars are exciting and surprising “melting pots” where the aim is to bring out the best of each participant. Anthony has studied Yoga, Qigong and Taiji since 1998 and graduated from the Dimitri physical theatre school in Switzerland in 2006. The work is technical and expressive, creative and profound. 2016 saw his book Pearls of Juggling published.

https://www.facebook.com/events/1929086680658902/

poj-long-poster-workshops-2017

 

Pearls of Juggling interview#2 Peter Duncan from Circus Eruption on social benefits to juggling and circus in Wales.

At the British Juggling Convention in Perth Scotland last year I had the great pleasure of meeting Peter Duncan. His story is a great example of how Juggling and Circus can be incredible tools for helping communities and the members in them.

Hi Peter could you tell us shout the work you’ve been doing in the last years as a circus trainer and now a circus trainer of trainers?

-“I’m Peter Duncan and I’m the outreach worker for Circus Eruption. More than 20 years ago we were looking at play and the importance of play in children’s lives. I think if play is missing it’s a real problem for young people and the community. In Wales we have a project called “First Claim” and it says that children have the first claim on a society’s resources and children’s first claim is always to play and if people don’t play it’s a real deprivation to them and the community. In the summer there was lots of play provision and for children labelled “disabled” there was play provision too but in the winter there was nothing. Several of us from a social work course set up a circus, because we thought it’d be a very good vehicle for integration.

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So that’s been going on for more than twenty years and it’s called Circus Eruption and it gives children confidence and competence and then they are more motivated to learn. They see themselves not as disabled but able and they put on shows and carnivals and teach others so it’s proved a great idea. There is now a big social circus movement in Europe, as people probably know, so we use circus for lots of different settings.

We were given some money from a charity called Children in Need so we’re working with refugees and asylum seekers to teach circus language and using the money for that. We were working with trauma bereaved children, to look at being happy and feeling confident after some traumatic incidents. We’re working with young people that like to commit offenses. Looking at things that give you an adrenaline rush when taking risks and how you can do that in managed risks and risk benefit analysis rather than nicking cars and crashing them and being chased by the police. So lots of people are looking at circus in very different ways. I think it is a great vehicle for all kinds of things.

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In Wales they passed a policy in 2013 on physical literacy that learning to move is as important as learning to read and write. So lots of us approached the government and said that if this is true then getting children to move is critical. They don’t all do sports so getting children to play, and play with their bodies and learn movement and body management and locomotion and learning to play and enjoy being in their bodies, would set a lifelong trend and it seemed unlikely to be in competitive sports like rugby here in Wales. So we were looking at circus so we have pilot schemes that are training Physical Education teachers, who already know about body mechanics and physicality, and teaching them enough circus skills so they can integrate circus into the school curriculum. It’s been very successful and they are now training students to do that so I’m very interested in how you get circus professionals and elite circus performers to be good at training and breaking down their art to engage people. How you get teachers with their teaching skills to use circus to engage people in physical literacy and the uses of circus in social settings. If there’s a problem, drugs or health or obesity or lack of confidence or children not feeling resilient and able to move skills, whether you could design circus programs to suit that. We’ve had 4 years, so I’ve done 40 different circus projects.

Play is obviously an important part of this work as you mentioned the rights of children to play and what about teenagers and youth that have a hard time being able to more and play. What is your approach with working with these children?

I have a whole range of approaches. One is to just be a bit weird, a bit of weirdness is really good and they come over to find out what you are doing. So I do some tricks with corks, some dexterity tricks, some balancing plastic bags and I do some things that are really strange and they would come over and engage. They like playing, once you get past the front and the hardness and the kind of social stuff, particularly for boys with taking risks and being seen as the one that had a go.

What is cool? It’s cool to be stupid in school. So getting people to play you need to open them up and play is intrinsically self-motivated, no goals. So you play not to pass an exam just to play. So just getting people into a space that’s very playful, where they can try stuff out, is really good.

The PE teachers said if you were learning rugby and you had a hundred kicks at the goal to score a conversion you would get bored – especially if it’s raining. However a hundred goes at spinning a plate and nearly getting it, and a group of ten people where everyone is nearly getting it, and then encouraging each other you can create a space where it’s OK to play. So I tend to use some easy wins like feather balancing, plate spinning, juggling with scarves, and then offer some challenges especially for teenagers – unicycling, rolabola, stilt walking, human pyramids. Once you have done these you then engage them in some more challenging things.

And then say YES. Can we do this? Yes. Can we do this on our scooters? Yes. Can I have a go at that. Yeah you can. Can we do that on fire. Yes we can sort that out. So giving them some yes’s so they can explore stuff, even if they can’t do it, they’ve had a look at it and had a go and they can see themselves as able and they see themselves as actors in their own lives as opposed to passive recipients. Actors able to make changes for themselves, for their bodies, with their education and in their community.

Circus becomes an excuse to work on many different themes.

It is. And I think play is really important and I do lots of work on play. I only work on circus 2 days a week. Three days a week I’m a Children’s Rights worker giving children a voice and democracy in schools and citizenship and participation and inclusion. So I see circus not only as a vehicle both internally, for people’s bodies and mechanics and health, but also for their emotional and mental well-being. Also, within the community, seeing yourself as someone who is able. I couldn’t do that beforehand – now I’m able to do it. WE put on a show, WE taught others. Maybe we did make some other changes as well. So I see it as an agent of change and, as I’m not completely familiar with all the areas I work in, I work with other professionals – drugs workers, health workers, mental health workers, housing officers. I work with them to design projects to suit their needs and then they take it forward for transferability of attitudes and skills.

circus eruption transformation.jpg

Is there a particular group of children and youths that find circus especially useful?

NIEETS. In the UK – Not In Education, Employment or Training. So all young people that don’t have anything tend to be very disengaged, they are out of their benefit system, they tend to sofa surf. You’ve got sixteen or seventeen year olds at home with no money and they get on people’s nerves, and they sofa surf. So they’re young people who have very challenging views and feel that education’s not for them. They are very fragile learners and easily give up. Once you get them in it, and enjoying it, they really really get into it and very quickly learn skills and they can see it as a potential way of earning money and certainly as a way of enjoying themselves and impressing their peers.

Could they be motivated to do any sort of work afterwards?

We recently worked in a place called The Foyer, which is where they house young people. It’s sets of blocks of flats around an atrium, a central courtyard and we were deliberately playing in the courtyard to make lots of noise. Young people were waking up and looking out of their flats at us and then they came down and started to play with the circus kit – then they were walking on stilts. We were working with the education workers, talking about how they didn’t get much out of school. Actually these young people came down three days in a now and played at the circus and we got them into life skills and independence and learning to become more independent. We also got them into some more vocational training and it came out of just being a noisy circus at the bottom of your flats – coming out to see what was going on then having a laugh and then starting to progress from that to reflecting on learning and challenging yourself Being determined and building on your successes and what you needed to be independent – maybe I should enrol in some life skills courses – maybe I need to start looking at some employment – maybe I should start engaging on some vocational courses. So we moved them from being in bed a lot to actively looking at vocational courses. Took about ten weeks.

So it’s not just a great project written on a piece of paper, you really have a good way of getting hold of the people that need it the most.

One of the things that we do at the end of a set is to reflect with the participants, and others around who are important to them, about what’s happened. So for example in a primary school of ten and eleven year olds we did ten weeks and they learned loads of skills and then friends and family and neighbours came and saw the show. When the show finished all the participants stood behind the

stage and wrote down all the things they learned that weren’t circus and the audiences gave a one-word description of the show – AMAZING, AWESOME, INSPIRING, ENTHUSING, INCREDIBLE… and the young people came back and said we learned to work in a team, to be determined to learn from our mistakes, to take small steps, to keep trying. They had about a dozen skills and when they stopped we said that they were really good and pleased that they had learned them in the circus BUT they would be really good for carrying on in the school. The head teacher of the school said these skills – being determined, to keep trying, learning from your mistakes, having a positive attitude – would be really good for when they moved to the secondary school. One of the parents stood up and said that they were really good skills to have in your life. So we very explicitly look at what is transferable from the circus into other areas of people’s lives.

Do you have any anything else you’d like to share?

We work with CRUISE which is a trauma bereavement charity in the UK and we work with their counsellors. Young people that have lost a parent are very sad and everyone at home is very sad and there is a lot of legal and financial and traumatic things going on as well. The children have a difficult time at home and often also at school. They kind of don’t think they should be happy any more because it’s disrespectful of the parent who has died. We worked with the counsellors to design a circus day. In the morning the young people came and we said have a go, try, help each other and be safe and have fun. After having done two hours of circus we stopped and sat in a circle and talked about that. the young people were OK with having a go and trying and being safe and looking after each other but when it came to having fun lots of them started crying because they felt disloyal to a dead parent. We worked with the counsellors to talk about that. Their surviving parent came at lunch time and in the afternoon the children taught their parents circus. We had a mother that lost her partner in a trauma and she had four children between six and twelve. She was really exhausted and felt that she couldn’t do this, she couldn’t play with her children. We went with a counsellor and had a cup of tea and said it’s really important that your children see you laughing and playing and she came in and all four of the children played with her and taught her circus skills and they took photos and they made a certificate and they worked with the councillor to say – “we’re really sorry that all this difficult stuff happened but actually your family needs to move forward and these photos and this day might be part of that”. You do have to deal with all the money and the

legal stuff but actually playing with your children and being and learning and laughing together is so critical to their healing and development and it was really a significant day for our circus. Anything else?

Yes. Say Yes. Can you do this? You go “Yes I can do that”. “I can run a workshop” and you get on the internet, you phone people, you network people and you have a go and occupy all the space. Circus is a really valuable tool for people. People need to spread it out and create opportunities, to play and learn circus.

http://www.circuseruption.co.uk

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Anthony and Peter at the British Juggling Convention in Perth Scotland 2016