Near and Far

Near and Far

On a high in New York

On the weekend of March 20, 2010 I participated in a No Nonsense Acroyoga Intensive workshop taught by Tobias Frank and Jaqui Wan,  two Acroyoga teachers from Europe. Students also came from near and afar including British Columbia, Boston, Philadelphia,  New Jersey (they almost dominated) and native New Yorkers.

Tobias and Jaqui immediately established their skill, rigor, intensity, no nonsense attitude  and goofiness.  I quickly learned some important lessons: in conditioning drills: “Do not max out just because the teacher says so” and “Think twice before volunteering to spot Jaqui.” She is extremely “creative”  in demonstrating the pitfalls of various postures.

In all seriousness, we covered an enormous amount of material with complete safety due to the rigorous and highly entertaining focus on spotting technique. We did extended leg variations in star, lots of bird variations, shoulder stand to free shoulderstand  twisting to straddle bat, drop to straddle bat from back plank, bird to star to bird and handstand to back plank to drop… Wow. Phew. Several of the drills were particularly amusing, especially throne catch (as a juggler I noted and will attempt to recruit one particular acro teacher who showed an uncanny ability to catch errant throws while basing and without dropping her flyer) and cartwheel chorus line, which led to cartwheel in and out of star, which I never thought would be possible so soon.

I want to mention, there was an extraordinary clarity in the demonstrations by Tobias and Jaqui and an attention to detail that made the flows easy to understand. They both were great at helping the various groups as we were practicing.   I also want to mention our New York acroyoga teachers who participated and also assisted. There was some very touching evidence that the local teachers were proud of their students’ accomplishments and that the students were very grateful to their local teachers.

The second afternoon, a so-called curve was thrown at us which with hindsight should not have been a surprise.  It was signalled by the circle question in the morning “Have you ever performed?” You got to pay attention to those questions! We were told about this before lunch–allegedly so we wouldn’t stress out or worry.  (Jaqui and Tobias please explain the logic of this!  Perhaps a moment of sadistic pleasure at the thought of a group of students trying to digest their lunches?)

Each working group was given about an hour to prepare a  five minute performance. Despite substantial anxiety, the remarkable thing was that every performance was very enjoyable and each of the performances was unique.  In discussing the creative process it was interesting to hear how in each group the various members found they could build on each others ideas and create something together except in my group where we found that nobody could get on the same wavelength and yet we managed somehow to create something together anyway.  I still can’t figure that out.

Everyone I talked to felt a great sense of no nonsense (hah!) accomplishment at the end of the workshop, and the wonderful group spirit already existing in our acroyoga community was greatly enhanced.  I want to thank Jaqui and Tobias, all of my old friends from the New York acro community, and my new friends from near and far.

By Andrew Eisner