Gorilla Circus - The Primal Side of Circus

Brian Sobel

How did you get into flying trapeze?
I was first exposed to flying trapeze and circus when I accompanied my dad to Club Med Sandpiper Bay in Florida, where he was a guest artist musician. I trained in gymnastics and later competed in springboard diving for eight years in high school and university. I took my first flying trapeze class about three years ago at Trapeze School New York in NYC, catching my knee hang. I immediately got hooked and started learning to catch, pull lines, work platform, and fly. Shortly after, I got a job at the place where it all began, as a Circus G.O. at Club Med! Now, I’ve come to London to continue the circus journey with Gorilla!

What are your favourite tricks to throw in a show?
My go-to tricks to catch are forward over and double back-tuck. I used to throw 540, layout full-twist, and cutaway half. My favorite trick is the forward over as it always gets a great audience response and leads to a high return to bar!

What do you like best about teaching flying trapeze?
I absolutely love that everyone has a different learning curve. Some people are desperate to know more about the pure technique and physics behind each trick, while others just need a little bit of positive reinforcement.

What advice would you give to someone who’s on the fence about trying flying trapeze?
My advice to someone on the fence is, well, you’re already standing on a fence! Flying Trapeze is WAY safer than that so you might as well go for it.

What feedback do you give the most often to students?
Most of the time I just say to breathe, relax, and remember it is supposed to fun! The flying trapeze, as a contraption, is an apparatus or tool just like silks, hoop, straps, trampoline, or any other piece of equipment. WE are the ones in charge. Everyone will have their own styles and ways to artistically command the apparatus. It’s best to not stress about making catches or not making catches, but to instead just feel it out and have a good time.

Tell us something wise that you learned from flying trapeze, or share a funny story.
When we say that everyone can do trapeze, we mean it! My most amazing experience was at Club Med Turks & Caicos when we had a woman paralyzed from the waist down come to give it a go. She had never had the use of her legs. When she said she wanted to try, none of us even batted an eye. As Elphaba says, everyone deserves a chance to fly! We took an aerial silk and turned it into a sling that she could sit in. We attached a pulley system to the top of the crane bar over the ladder and hoisted her up while someone guided the sling up the ladder. Between two people on platform and the helper from the ladder, we got her hooked in and reaching for the bar. I was on lines and felt like I was flying with her as she was released and took her swings. She very artistically dangled until we slowed her down and lowered her safely into the arms of another staff member in the net. When she got down, she had tears in her eyes and said, “I’ve never walked before, but today I flew!” Yeah, that was a tear-jerker.



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