Building Bridges (and so forth…)

My very first introduction to the guys I would spend the next 14 years of my life training and performing with (apart from Dave who I had already met at High School) was Dave’s invite to the training shed at his home. I had no idea what to expect, got the dress code wrong (I wore a shirt!) and saw what I described in Loving the Boy as ‘the tightest back bend I had seen outside the Chinese circus’.

Well, like the rest of us, Ivo is a bit stiffer now, but still does a pretty good ‘bridge’.


The ‘bridge’ is a basic gymnastic ‘shape’, where we normally expect the performers to have straighter legs and put most of the bend in the back. This next guy has more bend in his lower back but still bent legs, although as his hands are rather lower than his feet, that is understandable:


Now, that’s a bit boring for an audience to watch! Ivo made the suggestion of putting one bridge on top of another, each person grasping the other’s feet and the bottom man holding the bridge upside down (which is not easy with having to hold the top man entirely with your back muscles in tension). The idea then was to roll (heads held back to prevent squashed noses!). His partner in crime for this was our Native American ‘3R’ who is something of a contortionist anyway because he’s been doing yoga for many years.

It doesn’t work! The pair, and also Ethan and Jack who immediately tried the same thing, found that they could not get moving at all unless someone pushed. So we put Leo inside to run like a hamster wheel up the shoulders of the bottom guy, making the wheel turn… hilarious, but not very successful either. Then we tried him as a strut, standing on the bottom guy’s butt and pushing the top guy up, but unless we pushed this strange combination around, that didn’t work either and he wasn’t strong enough to hold the top guy up for very long. And the rest of us are too tall…

We do try some weird stuff now and again. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. Ethan and Jack want to perfect this roll over their stomachs and chests and do it along the track of broken glass. That’s not so scary as it sounds, actually – I’ve written in various places about how that works. But, holding the position successfully and keeping the roll going is proving to be a challenge. And one where trunks or shorts are probably advisable. A work in progress…

Even very simple positions, incorporated into a balance routine, can look very effective:


…the top could lift to handstand on the base’s knees, for example… although a balance on a base’s hands is probably considerably simpler because the base then contributes to holding the balance:


Here’s another interesting ‘rest’ position:


Doing it in the sea is probably not essential, although ‘rescue’ is usually at hand…


A real ‘Stairway to Heaven’ there! And here’s an interesting way to meet up with your boyfriend or partner:


Even very basic acrobatics with some partners can be fun: the Spanish have a tradition of building human towers in streets and town squares, and can sometimes be found practising, even at night…

Spanish style acro

For all of this, you need to keep up with the flexibility…



…as well as improving strength:



Above all, have fun and enjoy yourselves!


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About tonycavanagh

Born Northampton UK; school Oxford UK and Oak Ridge Tennessee, where I met my wonderful partner Dave, also from UK. Oak Ridge is our main training base for acrobatics and circus stuff, but we also established a base in Wales (UK) to serve us when we are working in Europe. Our 'story', of finding gay love, learning the acrobatics trade and then of how we got shot at during our show (and worse was to follow - just to prove that the risks of being an acrobat are not always the most obvious ones!) are now available in my three books 'Loving the Boy', 'The Power of Love' and 'Against All Odds'. Links available on most blog posts. Actually, waiting for the imminent arrival of the first printed copies was far scarier than anything we do in performance. A fourth book - not about us but exploring the sadness of a gay Native American boy denied his true identity - is currently with an agent for evaluation. watch for 'Let The Future Find Me' in due time. And now to book five... another boy, another quest... seems its always boys...
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