Hannah Wright set herself a challenge for 2016, a challenge that will literally turn her life upside down – 365 days of circus. As she comes to the end of her first month, she tells us about the twists and turns that lie in store…
I’ve never really been one for New Year’s Resolutions. It’s really great to have goals but I’ve often been suffering from such monstrous hangovers on New Year’s Day that, apart from temporarily swearing off booze for life, my brain is never functioning clearly enough to think about what I might want from the year to come.
That’s probably why this year, two days late on January 3rd, I made myself the resolution that I would try and attempt 365 days of circus in 2016. Or… 364 days because I have to make up for the two days I missed but it’s also a leap year so I gain one day back. I never make things simple.
This desire to pursue circus on a daily basis doesn’t come out of the blue. I’ve been training on various pieces of circus equipment for around five years now, ever since I tried a slapstick masterclass as part of the Edinburgh International Film Festival. Slapstick led me to clowning, which in turn led me to the discovery that adult aerial classes exist. I now train on the trapeze, silks, aerial hoop, hammock and, sometimes, Chinese Pole. It regularly consumes most of my spare time and almost all of my spare money. I can’t imagine a week without spending some time upside-down and I regularly daydream about running away to join the circus; I suppose you could say I haven’t grown up in that respect.
I train with aerial dance company All or Nothing who teach at Dancebase and Out of the Blue, and the amazing Sharisse and James Tindell who teach at Full Cirqle in Portobello. Classes are usually a mix of silks and trapeze and are always taught in a very safe and encouraging environment.
As well as enjoying doing my own training, I love going to see performances around Scotland. I’m fortunate enough to be a reviewer for The Wee Review, writing mainly for the theatre section and preferring (of course) to write about circus, and perhaps it’s this critical eye that has often left me a little afraid of pushing past circus as a casual hobby and exploring my own creativity by chasing after this dream of becoming a circus performer.
‘Performer’ is a difficult word to assign myself because it immediately makes me feel fearful of some kind of judgement. Am I really good enough to call myself a performer? Can I really create things? What happens if people critique me? I suppose this last part would only be fair considering I regularly cast my own judgements on these very pages about the performances of others.
Making a commitment to try and do something circus-related for the rest of the year is my way of trying to silence this inner critic and turn those daydreams into a reality. I won’t be joining Cirque du Soleil anytime soon but perhaps, with a little hard work and dedication, I can do something more with this hobby. So far I’ve practiced routines, stretched my splits, tackled the dreaded press ups and even done some face painting! I feel a lot stronger already but mainly I feel a little braver. I have no idea where this day-by-day journey might take me but by testing and exploring my own creativity, I hope to be able to grow in confidence and nurture this seedling of bravery into something much mightier.
Whatever it is you want to do, or already do, there’s probably always someone critiquing you. The one critic you can control, when it comes to personal creativity, is yourself. If you stop getting in your own way, who knows what you could do!
So…what can you take away from this rambling account of one circus fool’s commitment to training every day for a year? I suppose it would be this: If you have a creative passion, pursue it. Stop dreaming about it in really boring meetings and instead run after it. Fancy being a comedian? Start telling jokes. Dream of penning a bestseller? Write, write and write some more. Dreams will only ever be pipe dreams if you do nothing about them.
Both All or Nothing and Sharisse and James Tindell offer tasters and beginner classes for anyone thinking they might also want to get their feet off the ground and learn how to fly. It took me just one class to fall in love with circus and want to keep pursuing it all these years later. I can’t recommend it highly enough as a way to have fun and keep fit.
Follow Hannah’s #365daysofcircus on Twitter @hanjmwright
For more info on classes, contact Sharisse on email@example.com (their website is currently under construction)