On Saturday night Maya performed in front of 200 people at ‘Fresh’, The Place’s night of outstanding dance with and for young people.
London Youth Circus and Centre for Advanced Training student
First thing I knew, I was summoned into the upstairs office. My premature thoughts weren’t full of optimism; ‘oh god, have I missed a drop-in class?’ and ‘are they going to chuck me out of London Youth Circus?’.
I was told by Eira and Melanie that the static trapeze routine in the London Youth Circus summer production impressed visitors from ‘The Place’ and they requested a solo piece inspired by it to be part of the annual ‘Fresh’ performance. I could anticipate something coming, just by the tone in Eira’s voice;
‘We were wondering if you wanted to perform the solo piece. We know that it is only in two weeks so we understand if it’s too soon’.
Immediately, a satisfied smile crept onto my face. I was so chuffed to be asked – I have never performed a solo piece on stage before!! I thought that I didn’t really deserve it and I felt bad about my peers in my classes. But they were really happy for me, only amplified my excitement, filling my stomach with butterflies.
For the two weeks of rehearsals, I dashed from school onto the tube to Circus Space as quickly as possible to brainstorm ideas for moves, music and costume. Layla and I came up with two songs that we both loved but in the end, we agreed on ‘Birds in the Mist’ by John Zorn, which has a slightly reflective vibe to it. It was new having one to one sessions and it was a complex process, piecing together a routine – I compare it to a jigsaw, moves have to fit together, to create a fluid piece. Not to mention, coming to Circus Space on days that I hadn’t ever been to before for 4 years. Surprisingly; it had a completely different mood. Typically, on a Sunday there are children running around, playing games and eating their packed lunches. In contrast, the week days are calm and sophisticated, with professionals working through routines in a focused manner. This was one of my favourite things about the experience – sharing the space with professionals; I was able to spy on them, admiring their skill and dedication towards their art. The professionals were very inspiring, providing a standard that I might aspire to in the future.
The dress rehearsal was greatly nerve-racking, performing in front of all the other performers, not only were they all dancers but they were my age and were in large group/companies so I felt particularly on the spot. I’ve never felt my heart beat so fast, before I had gotten on the trapeze I could already feel heart palpitations diffusing through my body. It was a significant barrier to cross and I felt great afterwards. I looked forward to the real thing!
When the music began, I closed my eyes and imagined myself practicing at Circus Space on my own; I didn’t even notice the 200 eyes glaring at me. The realisation came when I heard the eager applause; it was a moment to be cherished.
Performing on Saturday evening was a fantastic experience that I will never forget; it was exhilarating, frightening and satisfying, all in one.
Teacher and aerial artist
When Eira first approached me to help make this piece for the festival of youth dance at the Place I felt vindicated! It was something I had been hoping would happen for a long time. Finally one of my brilliant and hard working students would have an opportunity to explore their creative potential and platform their work as part of a very prestigious event. This talented bunch need an audience.
I am always amazed and enthused by the work we generate in our Sunday youth circus classes, and it is so exciting and so right to be taking that out of the classroom, and placing it in front of the eyes of an unsuspecting audience. We hoped Maya would take up the opportunity of creating this solo piece inspired by the quartet performance we created with Ockham’s Razor for the London Youth Circus summer show, I knew that if she did she would bring to it her great sense of adventure, immense skill and incredible maturity.
Maya has been a pleasure to work with, she has shown great courage, taken on ideas and tried things that are outside of her comfort zone, she has worked with integrity to find the best and most honest performance we could have made in this moment of moving away from the quartet and into this solo territory. There has been an enormous amount of trust built and we both agree that what we have made is ’ a delicate balance of presence, strength and beauty’ which reflects where we are right now. and now exists as a solo in its own right. I believe this process has developed Maya’s understanding of a creative process and herself as an artist who now has her own solo performance piece.
I know Maya must be extremely nervous as this is her first solo performance and what a brilliant first gig! I hope she will enjoy it and want to do it all again.
Trying out the costume’s all-important, static-trapeze-appropriateness
Review of Maya’s performance
Find out more about the London Youth Circus and the Centre for Advanced Training