2/1/16 – Failure

I remember a silks class early on in my aerial education: The normal warm-up with my teacher was climbing on both sides, pike needles and skin the cats. This particular class was only myself and one other person who had been at it a bit longer. After I did exactly what I knew to be “correct”, I noticed my classmate was deviating from the “normal” warm-up – invert climbing, sliding down upside down, stretching her splits between the pike needles. My teacher noticed me taking this in. He said, you can do that too – you know the basics, now you can start to play.

Long story short…I didn’t. Not that day and not for a few years after that. At the time I wasn’t sure what I was afraid of, but looking back, well, you know the saying – hindsight is 20/20. It was what I had been afraid of for years in many aspects of my life – doing it wrong.

Failure – it’s something we are taught from a young age to avoid like the plague. And if you’re like me and you follow the rules, it’s not something you have too much practical experience with. You understand it theoretically – defeat, the inability to succeed. You may not have been the top of your class, but you didn’t fail.

That was my definition of failure back then. But when I surrendered to the circus world I realized without failure I would never succeed. As Sven Hopla illuminates for us in this Tedtalk, failure is in fact the process to success. As circus performers, we have to experience it practically time after time (which admittedly can be extremely frustrating) to learn a new trick, to find a new way of thinking about things, to build the muscles and flexibility necessary to do what we do.

Demystifying Failure, with Circus:

So my fellow circus enthusiasts, surrender to the failure! Join me in my favorite pass time of tying myself in knots, experiment with what you know and have the courage to experience that thing we have been running away from since we learned its’ definition. And if your teacher encourages you to “play”, try to jump in with both feet.

But as always, safety first :o)

– Lani Corson