Monday, July 13, 2009

"Let's Do This", High Fives and The Capacity Test

Last week the company of Kooza was given their annual Capacity Tests.
Strange name, I know, but that’s what they call it.
A little daunting at first.
Capacity Test? Capacity for what? Pain?
Or are you measuring what I contain? (Multitudes, of course)

But no, it was just a series of physical tests designed to establish your overall conditioning for comparison next year or after injury.
So we do things like balance with our eyes closed on a spongy thing. (extremely difficult) and squeeze a contraption with a pressure gauge.

Squeeze me

Heart monitors are strapped to our chest and wrists and we step up on a box about a thousand times to the rhythm of a metronome.

Then there is the Vertical Jump Meter.
First you reach with your feet flat on the floor. (95 inches in my case) Then you see how high you can reach with a one step jump. The difference between the two measurements is your vertical leap. I scored 20 inches, which I thought was respectable until the Australian head of physical training (and extraordinary photographer) Brad Fernihough informed me that many in our company jump in the high 40’s.
This is when I realize I am working with Superhumans.

Vertical Jump Meter

Walking Amongst Superhumans

Since I was a little kid I’ve always enjoyed comic books. Now I’m living inside one.
With diligent training and dedication these men and women have turned themselves into Superhumans. And they daily do superhuman feats.

One of the Superhumans I work with is Angelo Lyerzhysky.
Apparently there is a tradition, started before my time here, in which moments before he steps onto the Wheel of Death, Angelo must bump knuckles and make eye contact and say “Let’s do this.” in unison with me, the King.

(Ganji, our gregarious acrobat with the Mongolian accent calls me “The Kink” which may indeed be my Superhero name.)

Peaceful Warrior Ganji

Let's Do This

Partly out of superstition and partly just adhering to a comforting routine, we do it every performance and it has become part of my routine as well.

Of course when Angelo says “Let’s do this.” He is referring to flying around on the inside (and outside) of a three story human hamster wheel. (Mind you no hamster would ever be brave enough to do what Angelo does on the Wheel of Death.) My “Let’s do this.” refers to getting as much laughter as possible out of my “passage” with a rat on a leash. Not quite the same level of risk, I know.

But for that tiny moment, when our knuckles touch and our eyes meet and we recite the “Let’s do this” mantra, I am one of them, walking amongst Superhumans. And that feels good.

High Five

Post Performance High Five's filmed from belly button cam.

Because so many languages and cultures are represented in our company there is a need for an international expression of good will and shared camaraderie that transcends language barriers. Enter the high five.
Since joining Cirque I have given (and received) more high fives than in all my years in theatre put together.
The crack of the occasional high five peppers the Artistic tent like popcorn in hot oil.

After every performance there is a high five after the Charivari. Another after the “Greeting of the Artists”. There are high fives in the dressing room and at “Area 51” where the techies (and the 2 dollar beers for after the show) hang out. There is a receiving line of high fives at the end of each show where technicians and performers clap hands in recognition of a job well done. As if to say “We did it.” And nobody got hurt.

The next day the Superhumans shall assemble again.

“Let’s do this.”

"The Kink" and Angelo

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