These days, I’m a person that people come to with their questions. Questions about a trick or skill, questions about how to help a student, and mostly questions about how their bodies work. A friend recently said
“Lauren probably has the answer to any training-related question you have, and if she doesn’t, she’ll find it for you by the next time you train with her.”
(And if I can’t answer your question, I will do my best to connect you to someone who can.)
This hasn’t always been the case. The knowledge that I have was earned the hard way, through tears, injuries, failures, and finally, acceptance.
My circus story starts in 2008. I was 28, and had a 9 year old son.
I wasn’t particularly strong. I didn’t have a physical background in dance or gymnastics. I just loved to move, and loved to push myself. Some friends and I got organized to take a private aerial lesson, and that was it. I was hooked.
It was HARD. I couldn’t even climb the fabric for weeks, I’d just slither back down.
Sometimes I would cry because I would watch my friends get better and it felt like I had made zero progress. But then sometimes, I would try something and it made perfect sense, and it made me feel strong and amazing, and that’s why I kept coming back.
At the time circus and aerial, especially at a recreational level, was kind of a free-for-all. There wasn’t much in the way of institutional knowledge; people were just making shit up as they went along. While my coach cared about safety and had attended a teacher training, what she knew was how to teach tricks, not how to help me understand my body. So I was left to blunder around, trying to figure things out on my own – throwing myself into conditioning exercises that someone told me would help with X thing, figuring out how to fling myself through skills, and trying to understand how to make my body go upside consistently.
I trained like I was on a mission to conquer myself
And to a certain extent I achieved a level of success. I started acquiring some intuitive understanding of how to move in the air. I started feeling comfortable exploring apparatus and skills on my own. I started choreographing acts and performing at our studio. And I started teaching what I was figuring out to others.
But there was still a disconnect between how I wanted to look in the air, and how I actually looked. When I watched a video of myself, I was disappointed by what I saw, but I really didn’t know what I needed to do to fix it: my lines, my transitions, my ease… I wasn’t a BAD performer, there was just something missing.
What I wanted to look like
What I actually looked like
I kept doing what I knew how to do. I did more conditioning. I did tricks over and over and over.
I did more abs. I worked as hard as I knew how to. I was constantly sore and injured. Every night I rolled out my upper back with a tennis ball. Every day I took ibuprofen, my circus candy . I used my ice pack all the time. There was this knot between one of my shoulder blades and my spine that never went away. My right hip barely moved.
And I didn’t think there was anything wrong with it. I thought it was normal. I thought this was what it took to be a successful aerialist. Because everyone around me was the same. Work as hard as you can. Push yourself as far as you can. Get it done however you can.
Eventually, in my pursuit of getting better and becoming a real performer, I applied to and was accepted to a year long circus program. So, in August of 2011, I packed up my apartment, sent my son to live with his dad for a year, and moved to Brattleboro, VT to attend the Intensive year at NECCA.
It was one of the hardest years of my life. And it changed me forever.
Don’t miss out on the drama of circus school! Read part 2 here!
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