Tag Archives: aerial silks

Aerials at Crathes Enchanted Castle

26 Nov

 

University started back up with a bang. 3 months ago, I was in Peru with plenty of time to blog, structure Qayqa and social-medialise.  Since my return to Aberdeen, however, I’ve been living a demanding, well-structured life full of exercise and aerials. I teach 4 times a week.

 

Mondays, 7-9 pm:  Acrobatics at the University of Aberdeen

Tuesdays, 7-9 pm:  Flexibility class for working professionals at Studio 202

Thursdays, 6-9 pm:  Aerial Silks & Trapeze for students at Studio 202

Fridays, 7-9 pm:  Aerial Silks & Trapeze for working professionals at Studio 202

 

I’ve had a few people tell me they stumbled over this blog when they were looking up aerial classes in Aberdeen, and either accidentally bump into me at Studio 202 and make the connection later; or write me and join my classes. So if you’re out there, eager to start aerials or have a good stretch, this is my routine. Come to my classes!

Last week, however, all my classes went on hold because the Circus Society had been booked by Crathes Enchanted Castle to perform for 5 days – and I had been booked with them, on my aerial silks for the very first time in Scotland.

4 performances a night… for 5 days… In November.

I agreed to this in July, when I couldn’t imagine what “cold” felt like. By October, I was terrified. I woke up the morning of the performance at 6am, genuinely scared. I went to an Outdoor Adventure Clothing store and paid a ridiculously high price for thermal underwear.

I’ll philosophise about the Role of the Cold in my life in a bit, but first I would like to show you some pictures of the event. Here are a few I took, but I also strongly encourage you to visit the website of the event’s official photographer, Martin Parker, here. He has some stunning photographs of the castle and its grounds all magically lit up, like this:

Crathes Castle. Photograph by Martin Parker

Crathes Castle. Photograph by Martin Parker

Crathes Castle Grounds. Photograph by Martin Parker.

Crathes Castle Grounds. Photograph by Martin Parker.

Meanwhile, here are a few I took of our team on the first night. Missing only is a picture of Sandra, but you’ll find her in Martin Parker’s collection.

Big Man Barnaby

Big Man Barny

Hannah firebreathing while Emma hoola-hooped

Hannah firebreathing while Emma hoola-hooped

Emma's Mysterious Frolicking Creature, anything from Gollum to... a goat

Emma’s Mysterious Frolicking Creature, anything from Gollum to… a goat

the view to my office

where I danced

My area had Talking Trees, who discussed one another’s growth spurts, the fashion of the audience, and spiderwebs. This was the first time I didn’t have music for my performance, but the conversation of trees instead. It was a challenge. I spent the first 2 days fighting for music, but by the end of the 2nd day, friends assured me that not having music added a somewhat mystical value to my performance. I remembered that a lot of circus performances have begun to take place in total silence, and I accepted the challenge.

did get feedback that it would have been even more surreal had the trees stopped talking entirely while I performed. Personally, I have to agree. Total silence would have been nice. But towards the end of 5 days, I barely even heard them anymore.

I’ll let YOU decide, dear ayllu, and tell me what you think. Here is a video of my performance amongst slight raindrops, courtesy of My Special Man:

There’s a brilliant anecdote to this video.

This evening was was the very first time my man saw me perform live on the silks, so afterwards, I ran to hug him and hear all about it. I was so eager to hear his thoughts. “Did I scare you, in the end?” I asked excitedly, “When I dropped suddenly, did I scare you?”

“Oh, I knew you were always in control,” he bluffed.

“Seriously?” I was so annoyed with myself. “I didn’t scare you?”

“Well, the truth is…” he slowly began to admit, “I kinda missed the drop…”

“What? Why? What were you doing?”

You see, in the seconds before my final drop, my proud boyfriend had turned his back in order to take a selfie with his aerial girlfriend. . .

. . .When suddenly, the crowd shouted in surprise, and he turned, wondering: What? What did I miss??? 

The Selfie

The Selfie

This performance was not only my very first aerial performance in Scotland… It is also my goodbye to my red silks. Over the last 5 years, we’ve worked so well together: in short films, hanging from a 10 meter crane, teaching my very first students in Aberdeen how to fly… They are well over their retirement age and have certainly lost a lot of elasticity. Silks are usually used for 2-3 years; mine are over 5 years old. It is time to say goodbye to my darlings.

I think this was a more than worthy farewell.

During the performance, knowing that this will be the last time we work together, I became aware of how much I trust them. How I reach for them without looking, because I know they are where my hands expect them to be. Before every performance, I touch them gently, look up at their securing point and whisper Please take care of me. We’ll do this together. And they’ve never let me fall.

This is the most beautiful, heart-stopping view to me.

Photo 20-11-2014 00 44 06

Here are a few more images from the nights at Crathes Enchanted Castle:

Photo 21-11-2014 23 15 56

my favourite by Elsie Liontou

 

And favourites by Martin Parker:

copyright Martin Parker

copyright Martin Parker Photography

copyright Martin Parker

copyright Martin Parker Photography

copyright Martin Parker

copyright Martin Parker Photography

Now I wasn’t too delighted at performing in the cold. If anything, most aspects of my life in Scotland revolve around The Art Of Not Feeling Cold. I arrived in Scotland complete with a UV light therapy gadget. My man has nicknamed me “the Firefighter” because of my winter fashion.

Other girls and me

The cold usually makes me very bad-tempered, unhappy and generally super bitchy.

Photo 21-11-2014 13 31 13

And if you’re wondering where I’m getting all these pictures from, check out this great page: 27 Things Girls Who Are Always Cold Know To Be True. Story of my life.

So I find it interesting that the one time I perform on the aerial silks in Scotland, it’s in the dead of winter. Barefoot. Or that the one time I decide to go to university, it’s in the north of Scotland. Etc etc ad infinitum.

You have to admit that Life really is throwing almost a lot of the things at me which I happen to despise the most. And yet, I’m enjoying my time in Scotland so much.

Life, in its Infinite Wisdom, is throwing the things at me that will challenge me the most. And thanks to that, I am learning.

Learning how to stay warm for 5 days and not get sick afterwards.

Finally buying thermal underwear so I don’t freeze.

Finding the strength within me to suck it up and perform barefoot.

Maybe living in a country that has four seasons (my main complaint) isn’t so bad for the value of the lessons I’m learning. Because after the 3rd night of performing, when it was windy and freezing, I heard myself say on the 4th night: “8 degrees? Wow, it’s warm!”

This is how we change.

Or maybe Life just has a sadistic sense of humour and loves picking on me. I prefer to believe the former!

Yes We Can!

We Can Do It!

Dear ayllu, in 2 weeks, we university students have our winter exams. After this, we’re away on our Christmas break and I will be able to blog more and tell you all about Qayqa. I skyped with Mark today, who is in Cologne, also performing, and we quickly discussed the last bits and pieces. I’ll keep you informed on the process.

Finally, I would like to leave you with a short clip I shot just for you, for this blog. I’ll explain: for 5 long nights, opera music was put in an endless 5-hour-long loop to accompany the hoola hoop fire performances. Pleasant as it was, it didn’t take very long to exhaust everyone’s eardrums. I once did the entire walk through the Enchanted Forest, looking at the lit-up trees, hearing the bizarre and spooky sound effects, and I commented to the sound technician: “If you took LSD then walked through that forest, it would the trip of your life!”

He joked back: “Then maybe on the last night we should have a rave!”

On the last night, after the audience had left, the gates had closed and everyone was taking down their stuff, he put on delicious trance beats that fit remarkably well to the projections on the castle. I just had to film it.

So here it is, from me to you, sending you love from Scotland.

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In Which I Doubt Occasionally

20 May
obviously paying close attention in class

obviously paying close attention in class

University life is quickly coming to an end for the summer, which means I will be more active on my blog in the next few months. Hurray! University has been great to me and just earlier, walking through the quiet campus, I felt very happy to be a part of this place. I think it was definitely the right decision to come here.

But I am not without my doubts. Truth be told – especially when I hear about how amazingly well my friend Ben is doing. He moved to Berlin a year ago to do an internship with a StartUp and has been doing amazingly for himself since then. He sends me all his updates and I am overwhelmed and proudly happy for him – with a human tinge of envy. If you want to know what Ben’s been up, check out this great interview he gave for Die Zeit, which really explains it best: http://www.zeit.de/studium/uni-leben/2014-04/selbststudium-education-hacking

I know it’s normal to ask myself if, maybe, just maybe, I couldn’t be using this time better: What if I were focussing on my writing instead of being at university? What if I were giving readings night after night instead?

photo 4

 

Where would I be instead? Could I achieve more?

These are very normal doubts and I am filled with them occasionally – but they are never strong enough for me to consider packing my bags. I love everything my university life has to offer, from the studying to the carefree enjoyment of life (which, if we’re calling a duck a duck, is terribly relaxing after constantly worrying how to pay the rent… suffer the antagonism of being the black sheep in the family who just won’t get a normal job… wonder how to get more gigs… and how I’m going to buy food).

My greatest joy in Aberdeen is the Aerials & Acrobatics group I founded.

silks hanging

A few weeks ago, I invited my friend Philipp (who I met at the EJC in France last summer) to give an acrobatics workshop to my acrobats. As chance would have it, the hall we had (thought we had) booked wasn’t open to us on the weekend, which forced us to look around Aberdeen for a quick alternative.

We got lucky. Philipp had spotted something on his way in to Aberdeen – something I had seen, and forgotten.

studio 202

A studio promising trapeze and aerial hoops… I gave the owner, Sandi, a call, and asked if we could super spontaneously host our workshop at her studio. She asked when. I said: “In an hour?”

Sandi said yes.

There’s photographic evidence of this moment:

us

 

Thanks to this happy blessing-in-disguise, we had a home for our acrobatics workshop and, as it would turn out, we would have a new place to train every week. This is perfect because the hall where we sometimes train aerials isn’t always available to us – whereas Sandi has made Studio 202 always available to us.

photo 4

Sandi on the far right, recognisable thanks to her blue hair

Thanks to Philipp from Codarts Circus School in Rotterdam for coming and giving us such excellent teaching!

photo 2

 

photo 3

Seeing as acrobatics and aerials has become such a big part of the society, we recently had a meeting concerning the name of the society we are operating under: Juggling & Slacklining Society. We voted to change it. I was voted into the committee as Aerials & Acrobatics president. Yesterday, we met on King’s Lawn at the university and had an official photo shoot for our new society.

The CIRCUS ARTS & FIRE SKILLS society!

photograph by Jamie Hughes

photograph by Jamie Hughes

This photograph will go into the Freshers’ Manual for next year so we can advertise our society to all new students. I think we look like a very fun society!

The people in this society have become my family. I now also have a regular job teaching acrobatics to adults in Studio 202. Things are really coming together.

With all the colours in my life in Aberdeen, I still look wistfully across the water at the Other Life I could be living – but I’ve lived it, haven’t I? Now it’s time for this.

a studious writer

(but like everyone else, I need occasional reminding)

So summer is coming and I’m back on Skype a lot with Mark. I post the occasional picture of our digital conversations, which must be completely fascinating (ah, the sarcasm) but I have no other way of letting you know that we’re hard at work!

this is the one I mean

this is the one I mean

Mark is magical. I don’t know if I have said that enough: we have had our share of ups and downs concerning the ILLUSTRATIONS. Then, last week, he sent me a DROPBOX LINK. “Here it is. Have fun.”

dropbox

AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!

I might have gone crazy that day. All the illustrations were in there. ALL! (Except the cover.)

I can’t publish any spoilers but I do want to share one or two illustrations with you, because you have been so wonderfully patient and supportive all these years. This share is just for my beautiful ayllu – and you know who you are. Here are a few, not-photoshopped.

I once knew a group of flying men and women, and although they were born with their gifts, they worked very hard to perfect it and be graceful in the air. I met them at a time when my head was in a muddle and I walked around looking like a baba, all my thoughts in confused knots on top of my head. After making love to one of the flying women, I agreed to travel with their caravans for a while and see if I could do something about my knots…

IMG_7664

by Mark Klawikowski for “Qayqa” by Ritti Soncco

by Mark Klawikowski for "Qayqa" by Ritti Soncco

by Mark Klawikowski for “Qayqa” by Ritti Soncco

by Mark Klawikowski for "Qayqa" by Ritti Soncco

by Mark Klawikowski for “Qayqa” by Ritti Soncco

I called him to congratulate him – and we ended up discussing the cover for an hour. This is what it’s not going to be, but a rough idea of what it will look like. If you’ll remember, this was the sketch I gave Mark:

photo 3

And this is what Mark transformed it into:

rough sketch by Mark Klawikowski

rough sketch by Mark Klawikowski

 

It won’t be this one because he’s messing around with what kind of water colours / ink to use. Why did we spend one hour talking about it? We discussed if Damian should stand still (as he does in my sketch) or if he should be walking (as in Mark’s). We agreed immediately that he should be walking. We discussed the edges of the words, which I want to be natural, organic and full of rough edges. I wouldn’t want them to be clean & clear. Mark said you couldn’t see it, but he had already started giving them rough edges. We discussed if you could see the desert behind Damian, and if not, how to hint at it. We discussed what Damian is carrying in his hand.

You know, details.

Well, my dearest ayllu, I must be off. This week, I’ll be studying for my exams next week and, during my breaks, I’ll do the last digital editing on the illustrations and begin to lay them into the book.

The final stages are upon us… Soon, I’ll blog about the BOOK TOUR.

So please stay tuned.

And thank you for your continuous support, dearest ayllu. This dialogue has been my continuous support to continue fighting for my work to be published – and to fight off my snide little doubts. Some of my occasional Skype chats with Ben have been about our doubts, and yet we continue fighting. As long as we support each other, there’s no need to give up, is there?

Congratulations, once again, dear Ben, for everything you are doing. For not giving up, for believing in your voice, and – above all – for staying so humble. You’re doing a damn fucking amazing thing, and you can really give yourself more pats on the back! There’s a part of me that really believes that everything you touch becomes gold.

 

Love, Ritti

When Progress Happens Quietly, It Must Be Wearing Socks

13 Feb

Exams are over and life at Aberdeen University is returning to normal. If you’ve been following the news, you’ll know that the island of Great Britain is being battered on all sides by strong winds and floods. Up here in Scotland, it’s not necessarily cold. It’s just very wet.

photo 5

Wet students are a miserable sight. But to be honest, I am very happy exams are over. Those two revision weeks bored me to tears. Finally we can all get back to living our lives again! I was going mad in my room.

At the moment, I am fighting on two battlefields: one is the Battle of the Illustrations; the second is the Battle of the Silks.

The Battle of the Silks

This battle began in November 2013, between the Juggling Society and the University of Aberdeen. I teach acrobatics within the Juggling Society (because it’s the closest to a circus society, and because these people are fine people and are my friends), and we have been hunting for a way to hang up my silks. The president of the society has been an amazing help. We tackled the administrative offices of the uni, all of whom say NAY! to our quest to hang up my silks; and then we rang the doorbells of about 6 different schools (and a kindergarten) around the city of Aberdeen, asking what the politics are to rent their gym halls.

Last Friday, I got Sick Of It All. It was a surprisingly sunny day, slightly warm, so with the help of my amazing friends, I hung up my silks at Seaton Park and had my first silk session in 5 months. 

2014-02-07 15.14.20

2014-02-07 15.10.29

by Lucho

finally I wasn’t hiding my face

Now it seems as though I may finally have found a hall to hang them up in! The trouble is that most gym halls in Aberdeen aren’t built “the usual” way, with beams hanging openly in the ceiling for aerialists to hang up their silks. Most halls are built for gymnastics, basketball or badminton. Silks are a rather unique thing with such strict requirements, so I’m not surprised it’s been hard to find a suitable place. But that it’s been so hard…

Now, with a hall in sight, I have to do all the necessary paperwork and navigate around British bureaucracy. These are new waters for me, so please keep your fingers crossed for us. If this works out, we will found Aberdeen’s first aerial group, and I will be able to transform my acrobatics group into an aerial and acrobatics society!

 

The Battle of the Illustrations

The past three weeks have found me whispering into my computer’s microphone while my flatmates sleep, discussing illustrations with Mark over Skype.

photo 2

Over the last few months, Mark has had a bit of an artist’s block when it came to certain illustrations that correspond to Damian’s time in the desert. He’s been working madly on all the other ones, and has sent me many 90% completed illustrations, which are looking STUNNING.

He also held up a couple of new illustrations over Skype, and we were able to discuss in realtime what kind of frame it needs, how to continue certain parts, what the novel says about this particular section. Here’s a picture of Mark showing me a new illustration of Damian:

photo 3

Damian is looking quite different here. I’m quite glad that it’s a bit blurry, because this is one of the last illustrations of the book, and it shows his physical and emotional transformation towards the “end” of his journey.

I was in despair about how slowly the illustrations were coming along over the past months. I receive many emails asking me when Qayqa will come out, and along with your feedback to the excerpt recently, I know it’s her time. Mark and I had many conversations about why he’s stuck, how I could help him, how he could help himself. Part of the reason why he is stuck has to do with the very vague and slippery notion of the desert Damian falls into. How do you depict emptiness? How do you illustrate a divine deity, an earth goddess? – without being all hippie ethereal.

I know how hard it is for me to get over writer’s block. How do you help an artist get over illustrating block?

Mark has many illustrations of Damian and Pacha Mama, and we were both unsatisfied with them. When we were in Peru in 2009, touring with our film Children of Roots, Mark created several fascinating illustrations that so wonderfully tapped into Peruvian art and culture. I was amazed that a man who never studied Peruvian art could mimic it so well. We agreed that one of them would make it into Qayqa. This one: 

pre-production illustration by Mark Klawikowski

pre-production illustration by Mark Klawikowski

He tapped into the Peruvian mythical world so well here, but with Qayqa, there are stricter guidelines, not to mention that Pacha Mama is such an enigma to paint.

For a few months, I have been toying with an idea, and one night when I couldn’t sleep, I sent off the message I had been writing in my head for months. I wrote an artist friend.

He is someone I volunteered with at Helping Hands in Cusco two years ago. Let’s just call him “Ryan”. I called him to discuss the possibility of him illustrating the desert scenes in Qayqa. Ryan’s work is … surreal – but I’m not entirely sure what other genres or categories to use to describe his work. You decide:

"Foxes" by Ryan and Amy, painted at Helping Hands Cusco

“Foxes” by Ryan and Amy, painted at Helping Hands Cusco

"Love from Peru" screen print by Ryan

“Love from Peru” screen print by Ryan

When I spoke to Ryan on the phone and explained briefly what Qayqa – particularly the desert scenes – is about, he became very excited. Having spent several months traveling Latin America with his girlfriend, he understands not only the concept, but also the love and lifestyle behind “Pacha Mama”.

My main worry is that having two artists illustrate one book might not have a homogenous outcome. But I promised to be honest to you, and I want you to participate in this journey of my self-publication – with all possible pitfalls. So you know now that this is something we are considering.

I just sent a long email to Ryan with a short description of Qayqa for him to hold on to, and several of Mark’s completed illustrations, so that he can see the direction Mark has taken so far. I also sent Ryan excerpts from Qayqa, from the chapters of Damian in the desert so that he can send me 3 sketches as suggestions of how he would approach this job.

When I spoke to Mark about the possibility of Ryan boarding Qayqa, he was very optimistic – and relieved. The main argument for two artists working on one book is that the world in the desert is completely distinct to the world of the caravans, of the flying people. It is almost an alternate universe, so perhaps an alternate approach could work. It really all depends on how Ryan approaches what Mark has done so far. Either way, it will be incredibly interesting to see!

At the moment, Mark is finishing his two final illustrations. Then we’ll move on to discuss the cover of Qayqa. He is also working on little sidekick illustrations which will appear either within the text or framing it at the end of the page. Here is one I love:

x Wald

by Mark Klawikowski

I would love if we could bring Ryan onboard, but this is a question of two styles finding a common ground. It could either enrich Qayqa‘s desert world – or not. But if it doesn’t work, at least I left no stone unturned.

I suppose these are the experiments we have to dare to take. We have to find solutions for artists’ blocks – and who knows if a collaboration is a good solution?

I’ll let you know what happens.

This is the quiet progress Qayqa is making. A lot of whispering over Skype.

my celebratory countdown to my 30th birthday in June

my celebratory countdown to my 30th birthday in June

Thank you to everyone who sent me feedback to my excerpt from Qayqa! I was surprised at how diverse it was; I honestly thought it would be more unanimous. But thank you so much for speaking up, for critiquing, for being honest. I sincerely appreciate it.

The main thing you taught me is this: I have to continue listening to my gut. It helps so much to ask you, and I learnt that several gut decisions I made in the past were good – because you said so in your feedback. You also helped me make some valuable decisions concerning the future of the excerpt, and when you read the book, you will see some differences and you will know it is thanks to you. I will post another excerpt soon. I wanted to tonight, but I think this post is long enough as is.

I am very happy to working so closely with you on this. How many artists can say that? I honestly love that Qayqa is growing up so close to you, that you are influencing her. I’d like to see how far I can take this. Until then, thank you for being out there.

I wish you all a beautiful & happy Valentines’ Day on Friday. A grateful hug to you from Scotland. 

Love, Ritti

My Four Lives

8 Jul

Updated 9th July 2013:  SWR Radio Interview

Updated 2nd September 2013:  re-cut video of Ritti’s aerial performance

Today I did a few things I haven’t done in a really long time. I sat in a café for careless hours and wrote until I could write no more. I met up with my best friend and we talked about life. I had dinner with Mark and we didn’t talk about work.

I walked slowly.

I feel like I have been living 5 different lives just this week.

Actually, it was 4.

LIFE NUMBER 1:  GIVING A FILM WORKSHOP AT A SCHOOL

My beautiful circus friends Marina and Moni were commissioned to give a circus workshop all week; I was commissioned to give a film workshop which would document the circus workshop. I was basically giving my 8th graders a crash-course in documentary filmmaking.

preparing the technology

preparing the technology

Moni giving Juggling 101

Moni giving Juggling 101

We got up every morning at 5 am so that we would be at the school on time. I’m a night owl. Getting up at that hour was pretty exhausting. I was sleeping 3-4 hours every night. By the end of the week, I felt I had the rhythm in my system – and then it was over. I still wake up at 6 am wondering why my alarm didn’t ring…

(l.t.r) Ritti Soncco, Marina Colovos, Monika Kolb

(l.t.r) Ritti Soncco, Marina Colovos, Monika Kolb – Charlie’s Angels, right down to the hair!

There was a lovely newspaper article about our work in the Schwäbische Zeitung, which you can read here:  http://www.schwaebische.de/region/biberach-ulm/munderkingen/stadtnachrichten-munderkingen_artikel,-Die-Foerderschule-Munderkingen-macht-Zirkus-_arid,5462832.html

It was a beautiful, beautiful week – though tiring – and I’d love to tell you more, but when you teach at a school, you sign a contract in which you vow not to reveal all their secrets and not to post pictures of their students on your naughty little blog. So I’ll tell you instead that I had a great time working with these two very talented, very smart, very worldly circus artistes, who I am very much in awe of. Moni told me a lot about the aerial scene in Sheffield and Edinburgh, which made me very excited about my move to Great Britain in September…

LIFE NUMBER 2:  PERFORMING AT ULM MOVES! DANCE FESTIVAL

Here is the official Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/466583263412456/

From the Thursday 4th –  Saturday 6th July, I was commissioned by the Strado Dance Company to perform on my aerial silks during a parcours – a parcours which took the audience to various stations in the city center, where architecture or grounds which we normally take for granted, were now used for performance and thus set in a different light.

For example, the walls of the Deutschhaus parking lot:

photograph by Guido Gerlach

Marion Glöggler & Yvonne Graf of the Vertical Dance Company. Photograph by Guido Gerlach

Marion Glöggler & Yvonne Graf of the Vertical Dance Company. Photograph by Volkmar Könneke

Photograph by Volkmar Könneke (Südwest Presse)

A playground:

choreography by Jeanette Füzesi

choreography by Jeanette Füzesi. Photograph by Guido Gerlach

Graffiti:

Strado Dance Company at the Roxy

Strado Dance Company at the Roxy. Photograph by Guido Gerlach

The founder of the Strado Dance Company & organiser of the Ulm Moves! event, Domenico Strazzeri, approached me about hanging up my silks at the Ehinger Tor bus station. We had a meeting with the responsible people at SWU who had to tell us that it was too dangerous. If anything happened to me, they would be sued. Even if I didn’t sue them – the state would. They couldn’t risk it. They were very sorry, but they had to say no.

Domenico isn’t a man of “no”s.

Domenico is a man who moves mountains.

A weeks of phone calls and texts later, he called to say he had organised a crane and would I hang myself from it. A crane? Cranes carry things way heavier than Ritti, even Ritti in full-propellor-motion. I said YES. Domenico got in touch with Andreas Dukek-Haferkorn of the Kulturfahrschule Ulm, who agreed to give us the courtyard space.

Domenico had moved a mountain.

My new workspace was a crane.

red crane, red silks

red crane, red silks

Domenico may not know this, but ever since the Fab Fab showed me an epic video of aerialist Seanne Sharpe giving an illegal performance on the Williams Bridge (watch it here) I had wanted to give a silks performance in an industrial atmosphere. High up, with iron around me.

Secret dreams come true.

by FOTOGRAFIE Heike Göltenboth

by FOTOGRAFIE Heike Göltenboth

photograph by Heiko Mozer

photograph by Heiko Mozer

I was at about 8 – 10 meters height. I’m scared of heights. Plus, there was wind: a terrifying, unpredictable factor. During rehearsals, I dared climb only halfway. It wasn’t until Saturday that I finally climbed all the way up and touched the carabiner. An incredible feeling. And a ritual among aerialists: you always climb up and touch the carabiner.

photograph by Sabrina Fischäß

photograph by Sabrina Fischäß

photograph by FOTOGRAFIE Heike Göltenboth

photograph by FOTOGRAFIE Heike Göltenboth

photograph by Heiko Mozer

photograph by Heiko Mozer

More joy at the office: working with an excellent and brilliantly sweet crane technician. Here’s us:

Denis, his crane, I & my silks

Denis, his crane, I & my silks

On the last day, Denis had a brilliant idea. I begin & end my performance wrapped and hidden in a cocoon. He suggested my cocoon be near the ground when we begin, and he slowly lifts me up; when my performance is over, he’ll then lower me to the ground again. I was scared – simply because it was something new. But we tried it out and the movement of the crane was so soft, I didn’t even notice we were moving. When the performance began, I secretly peeked out because I wondered why he hadn’t begun lifting me – and I was already 3 meters in the air by then!

And then the Fab Fab showed up. And as usual when the Fab Fab shows up: he shows up with technology. He showed up with a few GoPro cameras, one of which he stuck to the crane so that it could film me from above. There’s a fancy GoPro app which acts as a remote control for the camera. I had installed it onto my iPod at Fab’s command, and so he was able to manipulate the camera on the crane during my performance.

What a man.

Not only that… He already finished editing the video! When I began writing this blog, I received an email from him giving me the link. I think the video is BEAUTIFUL. Can you feel the electricity in the air?

Videos sometimes don’t substitute the actual event, but they do act as perfect reminders of amazing moments in our lives. As for me: I am so grateful that the Fab Fab is in my life.

Ulm Moves! was an amazing event. It was fantastic to meet the other performers, to see how much art & culture is bubbling beneath Ulm’s quiet surface. All we needed was someone to string us together and we exploded for Ulm. The audience was great too. I was told we had a total of approx. 400 visitors following the parcours. The applause I received was juicy and a beautiful acknowledgement of my work. I sat in my little cocoon in the end, listening to the applause, the adrenaline of the last drop surging through my veins, and I screamed.

No one heard it, but I screamed. I bowed my head into my knees and I screamed and screamed with joy. This was one of the happiest moments in my life.

photograph by Guido Gerlach

photograph by Guido Gerlach

Thank you, Domenico, for giving me this fantastic opportunity.

The Südwest Presse wrote a great article on the Ulm Moves! parcours: http://www.swp.de/ulm/lokales/ulm_neu_ulm/Ulm-Moves-Zwischen-Verwirrung-und-Staunen;art4329,2095581

SWR Radio interviewed the performers and audience:

A final anecdote:  I had a beautiful moment in the air that I want to share with you. On Thursday, my first performance, I was sitting up in the cocoon waiting for the music to begin. I could hear the audience coming into the courtyard and I was very aware (and wary) that I was suspended at 6 or 7 meters in the air, held only by a simple knot tied around my foot. I was keeping myself up there – and I wasn’t sure how I felt about that.

In the midst of my nerves wrecking and my doubts shouting, I sat in the cocoon telling myself that I knew exactly what I was doing & that all would be fine… when the sun came out from the clouds. I was sitting just over the rooftop of the Kulturfahrschule, so when the sun came out, it hit my silks directly. The inside of my cocoon was suddenly flooded with light as the sun shone at me. Privately, I sat there. Alone in my height, swaying in the wind like a leaf. Like a real cocoon.

It was a quiet moment before my performance, and I slipped out of my cocoon with a quiet little ecstasy. When I die – if life really flashes before your eyes – I hope this is one of the moments that flash before me. It was a very powerful moment for me.

LIFE NUMER 3:  CROWDFUNDING

startnext

So it actually worked. Can you believe it? I am astonished. Grateful. Amazed.

I was saying to a friend: “This isn’t a publishing house saying Okay, Ritti, we’ll publish your book. This is 45 people out there saying: You want to be a writer? Okay, we’ll believe in you. Go out there and be the best writer you can be.

That’s how I see it.

For a while it didn’t look like it would work. We were stuck under €1000 for the longest time.

I was exhausted. I had just come back from receiving my circus pedagogue diploma. My mother, who I rarely see, was visiting. It was my 29th birthday. All I really wanted was to sleep.

As you can see from this post so far, I live several lives at once. There could have been a better time to start this crowdfunding thing, but time was beginning to run out, and I knew: If I don’t do it now, I’m never going to do it. 

I was becoming static and depressed. I couldn’t socialise in real life; I could barely socialise online. I couldn’t socialise in real life; I could barely socialise online. I thought: If my crowdfunding doesn’t work out, it really is my own fault. 

I was exhausted.

The challenge about doing something is that you are open to critique, and you will always always always have the feeling that you are not doing enough. 

It made me so tired.

I had a Serious Business Meeting in bed with Power Ranger when we were both hungover. With a groggy voice she pointed her finger at me and said: “You can still do it, Ritti. But you need to do something!”

She believed in me.

I sat in the bathtub and wrote everyone I could think of.

Maybe it was because I posted a picture of legs in the bathtub.

"How much spare time do you have as an artist? Here’s a clue: I’m in the bathtub with my iPod, writing people asking them to support my crowdfunding project. It ends in 4 days! Without your support, I cannot publish my first novel! Please support!"

“How much spare time do you have as an artist? Here’s a clue: I’m in the bathtub with my iPod, writing people asking them to support my crowdfunding project. It ends in 4 days! Without your support, I cannot publish my first novel! Please support!”

Maybe it was because Sarah pestered everyone she knew – and everyone she didn’t know online. (thank you!)

Maybe it was something else. But overnight, we raised €800!!! We were back in the game! That’s when I thought: I’ll be DAMNED if I lose this money now, now that we’re closer to the finishing line! 

I wrote, pestered, tweeted and wrote some more. And in the last 10 days, the money literally poured in. Most pledges came in over the last 5 days. The majority was at € 25 (a copy of Qayqa with your name in the acknowledgements) but there were larger sums pouring in too. I now have 2 dinner dates (they go at € 500); one with a great friend, the other with a complete stranger.

And now, Qayqa will be published. She will be yours.

*shaky knees*

*puts on business voice to hide shaky knees*

Here’s the deal: We raised more money than expected! This raises more opportunities. Mark and I have reserved this week for a lot of business talks, planning and layout testing. We’ll meet tomorrow and discuss everything that needs to be done and set it in a timeframe.

But I do want to say this:  THANKS to your generosity, I have more opportunities to make Qayqa the best she can be. This extra amount will make so much more possible. I have a few ideas, but I’m going to run them by Mark tomorrow and we’ll consider all our unexpected, new possibilities, and I’ll announce ASAP when you can expect Qayqa to become a proud member of your bookshelf.

LIFE NUMBER 4:  THE WRITER

Today is Sunday the 7th July 2013, and my 3 other lives have ended. Today, I had a calm shower, ate calm breakfast, packed my computer and went to a café with wifi. I had coffee with my best friend. When she left I turned on Spotify, I opened Munay and I began to write.

I wrote for as long as I wanted to.

Then I paid for my cappuccino and I left.

Circus Days

17 Apr
Jojo Circus Tent on the Rappenhof

Jojo Circus Tent on the Rappenhof

It’s been quiet on our front, unless you’ve been following my Tumblr. I promise you the silence is about to change.

It always goes a bit quiet when I go away to my circus school. In a nutshell: last year I began a circus apprenticeship like no other! Once every 1-2 months, circus people from all over Germany travel down to Schwäbisch Gmünd / Gschwend to the Jojo School for Circus and Theater Arts. I am training there to be a circus & theater pedagogue, and in June I will be done and get my degree.

I drove to the circus school with my friend Hannes, here posing with his new baby. He'll be living in his car all summer while he tours major European cities and does street performances. You can't miss him: he's 2 meters tall

I drove to the circus school with my friend Hannes, here posing with his new baby. He’ll be living in his car all summer while he tours major European cities and does street performances. You can’t miss him: he’s 2 meters tall

Each week at the circus school is dedicated to a different circus discipline. So far we’ve covered acrobatics, aerial artistry, juggling (I missed it because I was in Perú, so I’ll be taking that course in July) and clowns. Last week, we dipped more into the theater world… into body theater!

waiting for class to begin

waiting for class to begin

We began with lessons on performance make-up. First the teacher painted on me to prove her point: on the right side, you’ll see that lighter colours make my eyes smaller, while on the left, the darkness makes my left eye larger.

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We had great fun painting on one another.

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Body theater, also known as figuration, is all about using your body to portray inanimate objects. So, contrary to pantomime, wherein you make your audience believe you have something in your hands, in body theater, you are the thing you have in your hands.

The most popular example is: use your body to portray a towel. We spent large portions of the days pretending to be coats which were then worn by others… Or doors, that were opened… Or chairs that were promptly sat on.

But the real excitement is that in body theater, the inanimate objects are given life. A door will have a character. A coat could love to be worn, thus making coat & wearer look like two best friends going for a stroll. A chair could hate being sat on, and pulls a face or whinges.

a group portraying a woman sitting on a machine in the fitness studio

a group portraying a woman sitting on a machine in the fitness studio

can you guess the machine here?

can you guess the machine here?

Our teacher, Günther Fortmeier, was brilliant, absolutely fun, and if you want to find out more about him, here’s his website:  www.gjfortmeier.de

He gave us basic lessons in pantomime (pulling the rope… walking behind the wall… throwing a bubble). Best quote: “Your feet are the machines of your brain. Keep them in action. Always keep the machine running!”

Günther teaching us how to portray a wall

Günther teaching us how to portray a wall

At the end of the week, we were split into groups and given a slip of paper with instructions for a body theater piece. Our paper said: Alarm Clock, Get Dressed, Go For a Ride, Museum, Go Home, Television / Sleep. We had two lessons (approx. 4 hours) to write down a choreography and rehearse it. Occasionally, a teacher would pop by to see how far along we were, give us some ideas and direct a bit, and leave us again to cause trouble on our own.

On Thursday afternoon, we performed for the entire class. For you, I filmed our piece! So that you can get a basic idea of body theater / figuration… Now, remember I warned you: we portray everything with our bodies. An unenlightened person will think we’re complete nutters. You, however, understand exactly what’s going on.

Have fun?

Every Thursday evening is Open Stage Night at the Jojo Circus School. It’s created 100% by the students; the teachers just come, watch and enjoy. Sometimes someone will perform an excerpt from their show, but mostly the Open Stage is full of jugglers or acrobats who teamed up at the beginning of the week and rehearsed all week. We try to incorporate the things we learnt, so this Open Stage was full of pantomime & body theater.

I signed up for my first aerial performance at the Open Stage. Because the main tent was always occupied for classes, I couldn’t rehearse until Thursday afternoon, so I was quite nervous. My good friend & roommate Lothar did a bit of excellent directing and thus boosted my confidence tremendously. So I asked him to be backstage before I go on, which he was, and he gave me a massive hug.

Lothar & I at a stilts workshop on Tuesday night

Lothar & I at a stilts workshop on Tuesday night

Jojo Circus Tent on the Rappenhof

again: the tent where we held our Open Stage

A friend filmed my performance for the blog. Unfortunately it’s a bit dark, we didn’t have a spotlight operator that night and I wore black. But I trust you can still see enough. I wish you very happy viewing!

Our next module in June will be our last. At the end of it, we’ll graduate as circus & theater pedagogues. Some people are talking about doing the additional courses, not just for the learning value but also as a way to see each other again…

It will be very hard to say goodbye.

cuddle puddle

cuddle puddle

But before that happens…

HERE IS AN INVITATION FOR YOU!

Official Press Picture

Official Press Picture

On the 14th (Friday) and 15th (Saturday) June at 8pm, my class will graduate, and our graduation ceremony is a circus performance in the Big Top. That’s right! Over 10 days in June, we’ll write, prepare and rehearse a splendid evening show JUST FOR YOU.

It will take place at the very place where we’ve been receiving our circus lessons: the Rappenhof by Gschwend (near Schwäbisch Gmünd). We’re a bit in the middle of nowhere, but any car navigation system will find it. Also, we offer bus shuttles leaving from Schwäbisch Gmünd to bring you here.

 

OFFICIAL BIT:

Tickets cost € 10 for adults;  € 5 for children

Overnight Opportunity: You can choose to spend the night in a 2-bedroom (adults: € 15 / children: € 12) OR in the Big Top Tent (adults: € 5 / children: € 4) OR in a circus caravan with shower & electricity (adults: € 8 / children: € 4).

Food:  Breakfast is € 5, lunch is € 8, dinner is € 6. On Saturday, there will be a buffet for € 12, where you’ll wine & dine with us and party afterwards but! the buffet doesn’t open until approx. 10:30 pm, so bring a snack. Breakfast on Sunday is € 5.

DVD:  You can order a DVD of our performance for € 10.

If you know already that you want to come, then SEND ME AN EMAIL (rittisoncco@gmail.com) and I’ll book your room / caravan / tent space for you. Be sure to tell me in your email if you want food, the DVD, and how many tickets I should reserve for you.

Here’s a thing: my mother will be flying in from Peru to see this show. So if you’ve been to my performances and have seen my father, here’s your chance to meet my mother.

If you have any questions, write me at rittisoncco@gmail.com or over twitter (@rittisoncco), because those are the instant messages I receive the quickest.

I’m working on a flyer for our performance. Once it’s done, I’ll post it and you can download it, send it to your friends, and they can all come and have a ball! I’ll introduce you to the lovely circus people, and trust me, the performance will be stunning. We have a very lovely & talented group.

WHAT’S NEXT???

Last night, I began working with musician & sound artist Jens Krijer on an AUDIO BOOK for Qayqa!

Jens directing

Jens directing

When I asked on the blog what you’d like as a reward for my crowdfunding, one of the things you said was that you’d like an audio book of Qayqa.

I want to give that to you. I’m going to give you an audio book work-in-progress of however far we get.

We want to record the entire book, and have calculated that that would be a box set of 6 CDs! But we’ve only just begun, and while we’re on fire to do an audio book, it’s momentarily a side-project because publishing the book Qayqa has priority.

So if you back my crowdfunding project, you’ll get an exclusive sneak-peak of the upcoming Qayqa audio book! Everyone else will have to wait months for it.

pink buttons!

pink buttons!

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I’ll be filming the crowdfunding video soon, so that we can kickstart the kickstarter! Again, if you want immediate updates, follow my Tumblr!

That’s it from me for now, dear friends. You’ll be hearing more from me soon. The summer is beginning, I’m cracking my bones, and I’m feeling a new energy. This was the harshest, longest, darkest winter of my life. I’ve never known loneliness like this before. I couldn’t even work.

But you see: I’m getting back to work now.

As always, I love your comments. You can reach me here – or email / tweet / facebook me anytime. I’m here.

Love.