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DIY FAIL: How NOT To Learn Circus From YouTube

Baby steps, yo.

This week, fellow contortion instructor Adam Woolley rocked the blog-osphere when he posted a thoughtful and well-written entry on the growing number of contortion tutorials available online (if you didnt see it, click here its a MUST READ). Adam brings up some fabulous points, and, since were all talking about it, I figured I would add my two cents. Wondering how to use YouTube and other online resources to further your training? Read on, Dear Dangler!

The Hunger

Youre hungry for training I get it, Im there right now with my wheel stuff. I will be the first to tell you that Im a YouTube junkie contortion and German wheel videos are like crack to me. Also? Oreos, but thats another post entirely. I spend at least 20 minutes a day glued to YouTube, combing videos for performances and moves I like and want to steal learn. BUT theres a big difference between appreciating performances/variations and using video as a substitute teacher. Theres a period of time as a student where youre just learning how your apparatus works; its not just a series of tricks that youre filing away, youre actively figuring out how to drive this thing. A wrong turn could leave you with an unspeakable wedgie, dislocated shoulder, broken neck, or worse. So, how should you use all this readily available info? With caution, friend.

How To Endanger Your Life

Watch videos and online tutorials.

Go into the studio and try to recreate what you saw (or think you saw) on your own. Youll earn yourself a Darwin Award.

Be Smart How To Use Online Resources To Further Your contortion Training

Watch the masters. What is it about their performance that is so captivating? Do you see things you would like to learn? Make a note of them.

Work on the material with your coach. NOTE: Do not bombard your instructor with endless links (we love them, but there are only 24 hours in a day), or bring a list of 50 things you would like to work on in a group class most of us plan our sessions ahead of time with the group in mind. Feel free to make requests, but save the big list for a private lesson.

Take careful notes in class, observe your fellow students, and video yourself if your instructor allows it. Trust me youll learn more about your performance watching yourself than someone else!

Soak it all up. Read the blogs, expose yourself to tons of sources, and always ask yourself whos doing the talking. Also? Question everything.

So, watch til your eyeballs fall out! Get inspired and all revved up. I love knowing what my students would like to work on, but its also worth mentioning that any good coach has a methodology to their teaching. There is a real and important progression to contortion work a good foundation is essential, and theres no way of getting around that. So yes tell your coach you eventually want the triple, but understand that there are a lot of things youll need to master before you get there.
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