We had our fourth and, sadly, final (for now!) Wires Crossed – Balance Your Fear project Level I training group meeting in Berlin from October 13-20, 2019. Stephanie, Bara and I went to Berlin representing the CIRQUEON funambulists while Katka stayed home with her new baby. We were joined by our team members from Sweden’s Cirkus Cirkor, Ecole du Cirque Bruxelles, and Cabuwazi, who hosted the week. On Sunday evening we settled into our hostel, and Monday morning we met early at Cabuwazi Tempelhof. We were joined by our beloved teacher Bruno Frenette as well as Francesco Procopio, who has finished the second level of funambulism training with The European Funambulism Network. Omar and Aaron, two of Cabuwazi’s EVS volunteers, trained with us and also arranged our food and whatever else we needed during the week. Tomek Lubotzki was the main Cabuwazi organizer of the week.
Our hope was that we would make an historic event to end our year-long training and cross the highwire over the canal and the remnants of the Berlin wall, but unfortunately, on Monday we learned that Cabuwazi had not been able to secure the necessary permits in time. We absorbed this information, set up a number of tightwires and funlines in the yard at Cabuwazi, and chased the blues away by reconnecting with each other and practicing our funambulism skills. The weather was great, so we went to rent some bicycles for the week and had a lovely dinner at an authentic Italian restaurant.
On Tuesday the weather stayed beautiful and we practiced our knots in the morning and played some games to tune in and prepare. We then reviewed the common mistakes or difficulties we often find in new students of funambulism and spent some time skillsharing as to how to give useful detailed instructions to help such students work with these challenges. In the afternoon, the trauma researcher Katrin came and we talked about her document on trauma-aware guidelines in teaching funambulism and new circus in general. In the evening, we had a delicious Indian dinner and one of our group took us on a romantic walking tour of Rixdorf, a quaint Bohemian village settlement from the 1700s hidden in the heart of Neukolln, where he regaled us with the story of his love for Berlin.
On Wednesday, it rained cats and dogs! That didn’t stop us, though! We put on some fashionable yellow plastic rain suits and set up the tightwires, practiced knots, and then broke up into two teaching teams. One of the teams had been assigned by Bruno to prepare a more advanced funambulism workshop with the element of “Surprise” as the main theme and challenge. We played with some wild ideas and creative tricks, and had a lot of fun, as well as a very high learning curve! In the evening, most took a trip to a well-deserved sauna and spa experience, but the Czech team went out for hot chocolate 🙂
On Thursday, the weather was much better, and the second teaching team taught their advanced funambulism workshop themed “Crazy,” continuing and intensifying the previous day’s fascinating investigation into the boundaries between funambulism’s possibilities and impossibilities! (It turns out that with a little work and dedication, almost nothing is impossible!!)
After sharing our feedback on the two advanced workshops, we took down the 4m highwire structure on which we had been practicing all week, and under Francesco’s guidance, added on anther height, rebuilding it and bringing it up to 6m high over the concrete ground. A delicious dinner in an Ethiopian restaurant capped the evening and we all went to bed, excited to walk the new wire on Friday.
On Friday, we trained all day for the weekend crossing. Cabuwazi had a weekend family circus festival scheduled for both Saturday and Sunday. Though such crossings are not meant to be conceived of as performances, we were aware that the festival goers and passersby would also be our audience, so we practiced some of the material from our “surprise” and “crazy” workshops to give a little structure to our presentations on the wire. Some of our research involved adding different and uneven weights to the poles, trying to balance with completely different items (benches, sewage pipes…) instead of the poles, walking blindfolded, doubly exploring balance on the wire by standing on the wire on a balance board or walking a bicycle wheel over the wire, or standing on the pole itself, juggling(!), pretending to be animals or other characters, more complex tricks and creative partnering including forming human pyramids on the wire. Friday night, exhausted, we had a little dinner party at Francesco’s flat.
On Saturday and Sunday, the weather was benevolent to us. We put up an exhibition of photos showing our previous WC meetings and crossings which added a nice touch to the celebration.
A bonus on Saturday night was going to see Steph’s sister and some other great circus acts in the Cabaret Mond show “Offline” at Zirkus Mond, and dancing the night away!
On Saturday and Sunday, we spent both days deepening our experimentation and presenting our funambulist explorations to a very supportive and encouraging public. We enjoyed testing the limits of our fear, and were extremely grateful for the camaraderie, trust and support of our group! All of us have made great strides since our first week together in March in Prague. We all tried and succeeded at new, scary funambulist skills — most notably Bara, our administrative-queen-turned-circus-artist, who bravely crossed the 6m high wire not once but at least three times!!! Bara proved the point of our whole Wire Crossed project – that when we face our fears in a supportive environment, we can achieve difficult goals. There is a star in each one of us that can shine! Stay in the loop for our next public funambulist workshops, when you will have the chance to try it for yourself!