Circus  Arts Education

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Dialogue 5

July 23, 2019

F: So! Given the claim that everybody ‘has rhythm’ and it is ‘another day’, where do we go from here.

 

A: As touched upon in the previous dialogue an initial answer to these questions can be found through using games! Not just any games, but physical games based on a rhythmic pulse and more importantly those games which evolve around that rhythmic pulse and build in complexity to combine both movement, manipulation and thought. It must be said that to follow this process entails becoming very physical and so it is important to keep in mind that ALL intelligent physical arts need this physicality in order to develop and progress.

 

F: Isn’t that a little unfair, because not everybody has the physical skill and co-ordination to cope with what you are demanding?

 

A: Fair question, the programme is relevant to everybody regardless of their skill or co-ordination level, it is not a competition but rather it allows and encourages the individual to work at his or her own level of physicality.

 

F: Fair enough? So! Is it now possible to explain a little about the programme?

 

A: Walking! This uses a simple 4/4 beat so it is a very good place to start. (A hint, the choice of music is crucial, you should not choose the music that you personally like, rather, select music that you need to drive and continually accentuate the pulse – am I allowed to mention Country Music or most traditional circus music)    

 

F: Traditional Circus music I can understand but Country Music? You have to be joking!

 

A: On the contrary, this style of music – and keep in mind the same goes for traditional circus music - whether you like it or not, gives you a strong steady pulse that never varies, which is essential to either re-awakening or re-enforcing the fundamental body rhythms that we all possess. But more of that later. Back to the ‘Game’.

Begin by walking around the space making sure that each step is on the beat. Do not try to vary the tempo at the beginning as adherence to a strict beat is essential to the exercise. Vary the direction, the plane, turn, twirl, touch the floor, jump, crouch, pause, walk on hands and feet, roll – forward, sideways, all without losing the pulse. I must point out that this does not happen within the short time frame that it takes to talk about it. The process takes time and patience but it is time and patience that is worth spending because once the foundations are laid the process becomes self-evolving and you will find that it is the core of all the physical work that anyone does across the whole spectrum from beginner to consummate professional.

 

F: It sounds exhausting.

 

A: It is not easy; however, we are talking about building an Intelligent Physical Arts vocabulary - if you like - that will define, underpin and develop all the physical work that you have undertaken from the moment you started the programme. Please remember that when you build a house, strong foundations are essential and they constitute the most important part for if they ‘fail’ the house falls down!  It is exactly the same with any intelligent physical arts curriculum that you undertake.  So, all the above is critical to developing    the process.

Next step! Change the rhythm! Repeat all of the above using a 3/4 (Waltz) rhythm.  Making sure that all the different movements that you attempt – twirling, spinning, jumping etc. are on the beat.  I cannot emphasise how important that is to the process.

 

F: I think I need a rest

 

A: We haven’t even begun to start yet! Now for the real fun bits!

We next step is to introduce manipulation into the equation. Obviously, manipulation of objects is an essential and vital part of any intelligent physical arts curriculum but it has to happen within the rhythmic time frames that we have been discussing and attempting to establish as a physical base.

Back to the 4/4 rhythm. Repeat all the movements that you did whilst adding the arms!

It is important to try and strictly keep the rhythm with your body whilst moving your arms in a contrary but complimentary rhythm.  Vary this as much as possible, clap your hands in front, behind, to the side, altering the plane, the height, spin, drop, etc., making sure that everything is driven by and in tune with the basic rhythms. The aim is to ensure that the arms and indeed the feet can move independently of the body whilst still being driven accurately by the rhythmical pulse of the music. It is also obvious that you can make these exercises as simple or as complex as possible but it is important to remember - that as previously stated - this is not and should never be a competitive exercise, rather it is very much a personal programme that needs to be relevant to the individual both in the progression and execution.

 

F: I suppose the obvious question is does the concept really work?

 

A: Very much so. The programme is obviously time driven but once the basics are understood and mastered the progress that can be seen across the board is quite extraordinary.

Which brings us to the next step.

The introduction of objects. i.e. Manipulation  

Begin with an object – a juggling ball or sack is perfect – then go back and effectively start again, repeating all the above exercises, with obviously the addition of the object yet, always making sure that the basic rhythm pulse drives every move.  It is also very   important that the movements made both with and without the object should be very exaggerated.

I appreciate that most of the above sounds rather complicated but in reality, they are really quite simple and to a greater extent, logical.  If the exercises are introduced at the beginning of a workshop they are a wonderful way to create a group dynamic whilst at the same time addressing the development of the groups physical base.

I would just add that to round off each session it pays dividends to introduce a game such as ‘helicopter’ or if you are a little more sadistic ‘helichopter’ which is a wonderful way both warm down and also to re-enforce the physical aims of the programme.

 

F: Where can you find details of these games.

 

A: That as they say, is for the next dialogue,……….

 

 

 

  

 

 

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