2/24/14 – The Labyrinth

The Labyrinth



Training any circus skill is embarking into a never-ending labyrinth; inside there are many treasures, dead-ends, and traps, and don’t forget the Minotaur of doubt and fear that is always right behind you.  Embarking into training a new skill can be daunting but there is much to be gained diving into that murky water.  The uncertainty you feel can be overwhelming, but hopefully you have a coach and as such they can serve as your twine to lead you back when you are lost.


There is no “right” way to learn how to do something.  Don’t misunderstand there is technique that is more efficient and beautiful and there is technique that can be inefficient, dangerous, or downright harmful.  But what works for one student is not guaranteed to work for everyone.  People learn in different ways, people have different fears, different strengths, and believe it or not, people are different.  As a teacher, it is your job to learn how best to serve your student, and students, it is also your job to help them help you.  You know yourself better than your teacher does so it behooves you to give your coach some tips.  For example I was working with a student recently and I complimented one of her tricks.  The next time she did that trick, it all fell apart, She then turned to me and kindly said “you can’t compliment me during a lesson. If you do, it will immediately get worse.”  She didn’t say it in an admonishing way, just letting me know, and it was quite helpful.  Anytime she did a trick well I would say it was horrible, ugly, a disaster, she would smile but not feel pressured like she would after a compliment, and we were able to continue through the labyrinth of training together.


As it is a labyrinth there are lots of dead ends, and as humans, we love to break through walls.  Sometimes that works; you can find a crack and smash on through.  However more often than not walls are there to stay and as you continue to smash against it you are going to give yourself a concussion before you can make a hole.  This is a place where a coach can be invaluable.  They are that little string that can lead you back a bit (yes it may feel like a failure BUT IT’S NOT!) so that you can move forward down a different path.  There are so many ways to learn, sometimes something as simple as a mnemonic cue can be a game changer.  Don’t get stuck in those dark hallways, take some steps back and try a different approach. It is a much less painful way to progress.  Good luck my Theseus’

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