Sunday, December 8, 2013

Day 210 - Taking a Circus Arts Class

I have never taken a circus arts class. For those that are unfamiliar, the circus arts include everything from juggling to the aerial acrobatics that serve as the draw of many circus acts around the world. As someone that generally enjoys a physical challenge and the rush that comes with it, the idea of trying some of the circus arts has always been a thought in my mind, but I simply didn’t know where to find a place that would let me give them a try. As a result, I would watch trapeze acts, aerial acrobatics, or tightrope walkers I periodically encountered on television with amazement, wondering what it would be like to live those experiences firsthand. Figuring I would never get the chance to gain that perspective, I wrote off the events as ones I would likely never try and instead pursued those experiences I knew were much more feasible.

Luckily, all of that changed when I became aware of a new business opening up in Madison, the Madison Circus Space, which gave existing circus arts performers a space to practice and periodically offer lessons for interested newcomers. Realizing the opportunity was simply too good, and far too rare, for me to pass up, I immediately put the business on my radar and waited for any announcements about upcoming classes. Eventually, that effort resulted in me coming across a “Circus Sampler” course being offered by the Madison Circus Space early in December, which included lessons in tightrope, juggling, German wheel, and aerial acrobatics. Upon reading the description of the class, I immediately pulled the trigger on reserving a spot and prepared for what I knew would be a crazy adventure in my “I have never...” journey.

The Madison Circus Space!!!

When I woke this morning, the day of my first experience with the circus arts was upon me. Excited in a way I haven’t felt since I was a child, I made my way through the early hours of the day in anticipation of the noon class. Shooting passing glances at the clock nearly every five minutes, the morning seemed to creep by as though taunting me in my enthusiastic state. As far as I was concerned, I needed to get in the Madison Circus Space as soon as possible to tackle what I knew would be one of the most unforgettable experiences I have encountered as of late. With the clock finally approaching 11:30, I decided I couldn’t wait any longer. In turn, I grabbed my things, convinced Rachael to tag along as my observer, and made the drive to the Madison Circus Space.

Now, like similar experiences to date, I’m not going to try to describe everything I came upon during the course of my “Circus Sampler” class this afternoon. I will simply say it was one of the most entertaining and challenging experiences I have had in years. The event let me live out some of the things I have wanted to do since I was a child, and the workout I received in doing so was one of the best I have encountered in the past seven months. It was tough getting my body to follow through with all of the movements required to complete each event, but damn it was fun.

The class in action!

Getin' a feel for the wheel!

Effin' cartwheelin'!

That stated, the activities alone weren’t what necessarily made the experience so extraordinary. The amazing instructors, the ubiquitous jovial spirit that flowed through the space, and my enthusiastic classmates all added so much to today's event. In particular, the classmates in my group, Maureen and Cory, brought wonderful attitudes and an ample amount of energy that left us attacking each challenge, cheering one another on, and providing encouragement when our fatigued bodies seemed ready to call it quits. The experience alone would have been more than entertaining, but the instructors and my partners were what made today so memorable. Considering the amazing feats I took on today, that says a lot about the caliber of teachers the Madison Circus Space employs and the quality of people the venue attracts.

I know what you're thinking... "How graceful."

As far as my experience goes, I’m going to let the numerous photos Rachael took throughout the day do most of the talking for me. It’s simply too hard to describe what is was like to walk a tightrope, learn to juggle, do a cartwheel in a German wheel, or hang from silk in aerial acrobatics. To really “get it” each of the events are something one needs to experience themselves with the direction of professionals. The pointers and expertise they provided made each task move from impossible to incredible in the span of two hours, which left me in awe of our accomplishments. In fact, the overall experience was remarkable to the point that Rachael, as an observer, was convinced she had to make plans to try the “Circus Sampler” by the time the class came to an end.

Lifelong dream... achieved!!!
At the end of today’s experience I had learned how to juggle, felt the rush of the German Wheel, hung by the tension of suspended fabric, ridden a rola bola, and fulfilled the lifelong dream of walking a tightrope (three and half times in a row!). Although my body is a bit sore from waking up some muscles that haven’t been used in some time, I walked away from today’s event with a handful of unique experiences that I never thought I would have a chance to try. Put another way, the Madison Circus Space, and the people that make it possible, provided me amazing experiences unlike any other I have encountered in the last 210 days, and that says a lot. I’m just glad Rachael wants to make a return trip to try the “Circus Sampler” herself. It gives me a great excuse to go back and relive all of the amazing experiences offered by one of the most terrific places I have discovered recently, the Madison Circus Space.


  1. Caleb! I just found this and was almost moved to tears (I am the German wheel instructor at MCS and was teaching others when you had your sampler, but I remember you from the day). Would you mind if we possibly used some of your words on our website or for promotion in future? We are so, so glad you had a good time! Please come back and see us again. :)

    1. Hi Carly! It's good to hear from you! I'm glad you enjoyed my thoughts on the MCS experience. To date, it was one of the most unique and challenging things I have experienced in my IHN year. I have you and all the other amazing instructors to thank for that.

      Feel free to use any of the blog content on your website or for any promotions. I simply ask that you link back to my blog when possible. I hope all is well with you and the MCS!