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The Joy of Being an Adaptable Acrobat

Injury happens to almost all circus artists at some point in our training or career — and it’s important we learn to care for our spirits, not just our bodies, when injury strikes. Limitations can be a recipe for discouragement, frustration, isolation, and depression. But limitations can also be a source of inspiration and discovery. Below are a few stories of the latter sort, from some determinedly adaptable acrobats I know through my coaching at NECCA. To share and celebrate experiences like this, there’s the #adaptableacrobat tag — so keep reading for some thoughts on ways we can support and encourage each other during all the challenges we circus artists face in our training.

Adaptable Acrobats Who Inspire Me

Jordan Polan-Clarke on mini-trampJordan Polan-Clarke made a hilarious, innovative solo mini-tramp act while recovering from cartilage tears in her wrists during NECCA’s Intensive program. She says mini-tramp “was the one acrobatic thing I could do that never hurt. I could be free from all the pain … because I never needed my wrists.” Her final act was full of nontraditional tricks she’s never seen anyone else do, and she majored in mini-tramp again in her second year at NECCA; she discovered that “some of the most annoying limitations can give you the most interesting results.”

Carolyn Logan on trapezeCarolyn Logan made a playful, crowd-pleasing duo trapeze act during her NECCA Intensive year without using one hand, while a broken thumb healed. Instead, she held a remote control throughout the act (sometimes you have to make sure nobody changes the channel on you!). Working around a back injury on static trapeze during her second year at NECCA, she learned to do momentum skills using only static strength — one of the things that wows me every time I watch her act. Carolyn is a brilliant adapter: “I made a list of all the things I really needed to improve on that didn’t involve my injury (hand placement/movement, storyline, PT, flexibility, slowing down, straight legs/toe point, taking a rest day, remembering to play).”
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