At the Circus

If I’m not working or achieving homeostasis, I’m either on the road or at the circus. If you ever visit Michigan, I can’t tell you where the good eats are, or which microbrew I find the finest, but I can surely tell you where the circus is!

The most important thing I have learned from circus is how deeply your individual ability is intertwined with the trust you have in those around you. Simply put, you are better at anything you do when you know you are supported. Knowing you are supported has two sides: Being able to trust in the expertise and values of your teachers, and trusting that the people around you–both your teachers and your peers–will see you through your successes, failures, non-starts, and in-betweens. They will cheer your smallest victories, laugh with your flops and antics, troubleshoot our problem areas, and you will do the same for them.

This might seem like common sense, but it is not often a model that sees much use in this thing we call “the real world.” We’re more familiar with worlds that operate on an assumption of competition, comparison, scarcity, and hierarchy–upward mobility or bust. These things exist in circus, too. Of course they do. But in my experience, circus is also a space that is deeply committed to alternative ways of being in the world–of defining what “better” is, of recognizing the individuality and specificity of every person’s mind, body, and heart. It takes self-love and collaborative, communal spirit as its non-negotiable core. It takes this theory that trust is important–that trust is a condition for excellence–and makes it viscerally real.

This is the spirit that I work to foster in my classrooms–as a student (in the air and in academe alike), and especially as a teacher. As an instructor of first-year composition and argumentation, learning how to signpost ideas and offer specific, contextualized arguments supported by robust analysis and defensible claims is half the battle. The harder half is learning how to be vulnerable to your peers, and to your writing itself. (Yes, even if you’re writing a policy paper, or something similarly “impersonal.”)

I’m learning how to teach this vulnerability by learning how to be it–every day anew, again and again, and always. So to the circus I go.

Training Wheels

Hangin’ out at The Aviary (2017). Photo Credit: Noah Mosberg

I was first introduced to circus arts as a student at UC San Diego in 2013. When I moved to Michigan in 2014, I jumped in whole-hog.

I train primarily on aerial silk and static trapeze at Ringstar Studio and The Aviary in Ann Arbor, MI, and have additional experience on triple trapeze and lyra/aerial hoop. I have also sampled flying trapeze, aerial cube, chandalyra, aerial straps, aerial rope, contortion, hand balance, burlesque, and pole dance.

To date, I have performed in two student showcases!

Aerial at Large

A big part of circus is learning from as many different stylists and schools of thought as you can. When away from my home studios, I’ve had the opportunity to take classes from:

Where to next?!