Circus Advice: Forge Ahead With Confidence
By Liam Klenk
While listening to coaches and performers over the years, what had struck me the most was their decision-making process. The key to executing a stunt perfectly, and more importantly, safely, was commitment.
During Russian Swing, for example, pushers and fliers would push together in perfect harmony, bringing the swing higher with each concerted effort. The swing needed to be high enough. At the same time, too much momentum meant the loss of control. It was the flier who needed to feel for the perfect moment, to enable him to soar through the air in the most magnificent arc while remaining in control. When the flier felt this moment arrive, he would loudly call, “Up!”
Both pushers and the flier would put everything they had into one last, strong, synchronized push. Only a few seconds later, the flier would let go and get catapulted high and wide, performing a series of spins and turns. In the end, he would land gracefully in the water.
Acrobatics is characterized by many such moments of no return. In this example, the flier needs to commit.
More than anything, he needs to believe in himself without any doubt. Once he shouts, “Up!” he cannot change his mind. The momentum of the swing has grown too powerful to resist. Stopping the swing at this point can mean injury or even death.
From the very first day of my exposure to acrobatics and coaching, I saw them as a metaphor for life.
Once you commit to something, you need to forge ahead with confidence.
And, more often than not, going forward is far better than turning back.
Many acrobatics acts also require diligent teamwork and a trust so deep, you literally put your life into someone else’s hands. No matter how confident you are, without pushers who are just as committed to you, dedicated to a common cause, you will not fly far. But even a solo act is never truly solo.
If no pushers are visible, then the successful performance of the acrobat rests in the hands of the technicians who have prepared his equipment and assisted him behind the scenes.
I treasured such insights with all my heart.
Working in close proximity to individuals who risked their very lives for their profession on a daily basis, made me appreciate more than ever how important it is to believe in ourselves.
We need to be clear in our intentions, make our decisions with conviction, and overcome fear. We need to trust others, too. They’re out there, the pushers with common goals, just as we can become pushers for someone who needs us. And whatever our circumstances, we need to live life to the fullest. No doubts. No regrets.