Show time!

Cirque du Old Lady became a real thing at the end of June when I performed in the student showcase. Notification went out a month before the show which gave me 4 classes to work out a routine. The school offered a special choreography focused class, but I wasn’t able to make the weekend workout times so I was on my own from a development perspective.

For the space theme so I picked a song and whipped up a simple costume idea. I haven’t put together a routine since my gymnastics days, but the process came back pretty quickly. Playing the song on repeat I broke it into sections and chose a few obvious places to ‘hit’ particular moves. From there, I tried imagining the moves I could do to get from one section to the next. I chose moves that I felt I could perform consistently and safely even when nervous. I left out some of the flashier moves like meathook that I’m still building strength for. I did include a foot hang, but also planned for an alternate move if it wasn’t feeling solid during the performance.

Written down, the routine was a list with sections of moves with the line from the song I wanted to ‘hit’ beside the end of each section. From there, I brought the routine list to class and started working on the sections. In a class environment, no one was going to want to listen to my song over and over so I mostly worked on the routine by singing the song in my head. For some sections I had a few ideas of what I might do and tried each out to see what felt best. There were definitely some major differences between how moves worked in my head and how they actually flowed in real life. It took 3 full classes of working through the various sections of my 4 min song to feel like I had a routine that flowed reasonably well. To develop muscle memory, I worked the routine in different variations such as slow speed and working everything on my bad side. At the end of each class I hooked my phone to the speakers and did the routine to live music. After 4 weeks of work I felt confident enough with the routine to perform in the student showcase.

In the final week before the show, nerves kicked in big time and I spend a lot of time reminding myself that I was doing this for fun. Music was on cassette tape the last time I performed a routine in public. The fact that my performance was meant to be a little silly went a long way toward calming my fears of making a fool of myself. With a little clowning in the routine that was kind of the point.

The actual show was great. Just like me, everyone performing was excited with a side of nervous. The backstage energy was supportive and we all got out there, did our thing, and had a good time. My own performance went by in a blur. My husband and little girl tell me it was good. It wasn’t perfect, but it was certainly fun and in the end that really is all that matters.

All photos are courtesy of Cirque-ability.

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About Renee

Fortysomething mom, wife and mechanical engineer. Currently working out plans to found a retirement home circus troupe.

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