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Life Arts    H3'ed 8/8/14

Whitni Battle: Learning to Fly - How Circus Changed My Life

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The program is focused on performance quality, but I will also have to do hours of hard conditioning work, such as lying so that only my hips and lower abdomen are supported by the trapeze bar, tensing all of my muscles so that I can stay flat in a "plank" position, and then folding in half with control to touch my toes, and finally coming back up with my whole body flat and engaged without using my hands. This is something that is especially challenging for me. It is called a "front roll-up". I am going to have to do things I don't like and I'm going to have to smile about it. There is a clause in my contract that says that emotional breakdowns have no place in class. It will be an extremely demanding atmosphere, but according to my friend and trapeze coach who completed the program last summer, a good attitude is the most important asset a student can have.

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JB: I bet! If you survive the year in one piece, do you have any ideas of what you might like to do with all those new skills?

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WB: Part of the program is gaining performance experience, I will also receive professionally made photographs and video of my performances, which, along with the fact that I will have completed an intensive circus course, the equivalent of which very few people in the world will have done, will give me a leg up in a career as a professional performer. The program also includes classes in marketing my talents and finding performance opportunities, and I'll have the chance to make connections with other performers, and though finding work as a performer is ultimately up to me, I will have gained many skills to help me know where to look.

Coaching is also an option. Aerial dance is becoming popular all over the world as a fun and unique workout. A year of circus training should go a long way to helping me a get a job coaching people who want to learn aerial hoop, trapeze, and silks.

I also have the option of traveling and doing performances and workshops in different places that usually don't have access to aerial training or entertainment. I am interested in doing youth workshops and free performances in areas with ongoing political strife or economic impoverishment. Beyond learning tricks and strength, circus has taught me to trust in myself, to follow even my wildest dreams, and to share joy with other people. Even if I don't become a full-time circus performer, participating in the training program will be an important life journey, which will be valuable for teaching me about myself and my interactions with other people and the world around me.

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JB: Lots of enticing possibilities lie ahead for you. Anything you'd like to add before we wrap this up?

WB: I would like to say that anyone reading this has untapped potential to do all sorts of things they have never imagined. No one is born knowing how to do anything; we all learn as we go along, so if you enjoyed my story, please try something new and challenging, and if you aren't good at it right away, don't give up, instead think how fun it will be to get better at it.

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JB: I love that. Thanks so much for talking with me, Whitni. It's been really fun. Good luck in circus school!

WB: Thank you so much, I'm happy to get the chance to tell my story and I'm sure I will have fun at circus school!

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Joan Brunwasser is a co-founder of Citizens for Election Reform (CER) which since 2005 existed for the sole purpose of raising the public awareness of the critical need for election reform. Our goal: to restore fair, accurate, transparent, secure elections where votes are cast in private and counted in public. Because the problems with electronic (computerized) voting systems include a lack of (more...)

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