Week 4: Circus School [Score +10]
When kids start developing at least a little bit of hand-eye coordination, a question often arises: what sport are they going to play? Soccer? Ballet? Hockey? Basketball? Gymnastics?
Or what about something less traditional?
I first took a clogging lesson at the start of fifth grade, after I saw a team perform at a local festival and was captivated. I quickly fell in love, and it became my primary team activity during my teen years. My mom joined me, and we performed on that team together until I graduated from high school. Those performances took us from county fairs in the Midwest to the Citrus Bowl Halftime Show in Orlando, and even to summer festivals in Austria and Germany. Dance became a much-loved feature of my life.
In college, I switched to ballroom dance, then dabbled in salsa, swing, and Lindy hop. What never made the list? Ballet, jazz, and tap (so long as you don’t count my one miserable season of tap in preschool).
Even though I never followed the traditional route, I still watched figure skaters in the Olympics and dancers on stage and dreamed of moving that gracefully. When you’re a kid, dreaming like that means at least one thing: imaginative imitation in your living room.
Who hasn’t been moved by a performance and immediately striven to try it at home? I admit it: I still do it to this day.
It’s dance and dance-like activities that drive me to try pirouettes in my stockinged feet. Maybe for you it’s an awesome sword (or light saber) fight that you act out with paper-towel tubes. Or the feeling of pinning a towel on your shoulders like Superman's or Batman’s cape and executing a perfect flying leap onto the bed.
Now keep that feeling in your mind. Think of how you feel when you’ve enjoyed a performance so much you want to keep living it after the last curtain falls. Aside from immediately streaming the soundtrack or binge-watching YouTube videos or documentaries about it, the only other way you can keep that appreciative energy flowing through you is to try it yourself. You’re safe from judgment at home, your guard is down, and you try to bust out a triple toe loop (without busting a lamp) or belt out “Hello” just like Adele.
Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about.
That feeling brings me to my Week 4 activity: an Aerial Silks (acrobatics) class at Cirque Indy, a very nontraditional fitness studio in downtown Indianapolis. Taking this class felt like that: like after going to a Cirque du Soleil show, instead of imitating them in my living room, I actually got to play on their equipment. In their studio.
It’s billed as a fitness class, but for me it was two hours of pure playtime.
I got to feel graceful while suspended in the air by colorful silk ribbons and steel hoops. I learned phrases like “crochet arms” and “foot lock” while trying poses called “frog” and “mermaid”.
I’d heard of Cirque Indy a few years ago when they opened, and I thought it looked like fun, but I soon forgot about it and never went out of my way to sign up for an intro class. Why now? The company I work for has a women’s network that regularly organizes fun events that bring people together to network and make new friends. This was one such event, a private group class with the founding instructor, swinging through the air alongside a dozen or so other women from my office.
Abilities and levels of fearlessness varied throughout the group, but most everyone looked like she was having as much fun playing as I was. At the end of the night, Cirque Indy offered us a deal on a five-class punch card, and I couldn’t not buy it after having a grin plastered on my face all evening. I wasn’t the only one, either; I had to wait in line while other aspiring acrobats bought punch cards, too, eager to try it again.
So I’ll go play at least five more times. Even though I won’t get to count each of those times as a new week’s activity here, pretending I’m training to join the circus is certainly outside my routine.
- Did something outside my routine: +1
- Left the house: +1
- Did something entirely new: +1
- Activity benefits my health/wellbeing: +1
- Burned real calories (so I got some exercise): +1
- Had a conversation with a stranger of at least 30 seconds: +2
- Learned someone’s name: +3