Agustin Rodriguez Beltran dangles these days from the underside of his kitchen table.
It is far from death-defying. Nothing like the aerial straps he typically uses to fly and spin and twist high above the ground. But there is very little that is typical for students at Montreal’s École National de Cirque right now.
The coronavirus pandemic has shuttered circus shows around the world. But the class, as they say, must go on.
The world-renowned school counts contortionists, clowns, acrobats, jugglers and aerialists among its students. As with schools across the country and around the world, those students are now learning at home via computers and video conferences.
However, scholars of the circus arts face unique educational dilemmas with this approach. Space isn’t a constraint for contortionist Saffi Watson, who can wrap her body into a little package. But the others? How to correct and perfect handstands and other movements and tricks via Zoom? What are students of tumbling or trapeze to do while confined indefinitely in an apartment with nine-foot ceilings?
“Aerialists cannot do anything,” says Rodriguez Beltran, 20, referring to a performance discipline that employs ropes, straps, silks, hoops and bars hung from a circus big top.
To get around the problem, he’s doing pull-ups beneath tables, attaching elastic exercise bands to the metal bar in his closet and freeing up several yoga mats’ worth of space by rearranging his bedroom.
He has three other roommates, two of them also circus students. The challenge is to keep in shape while keeping the noise down in case the neighbours complain…
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