The Importance of Being Selfish

I have been lucky in recent times to be able to work as a teacher/director in disciplines outside of just juggling. Amongst other projects, a few months ago I lectured on creativity and lead a workshop at a meeting of hand-to-hand acrobats in Stockholm, and even more recently I directed my favourite aerialist Petra Lange’s latest dance/acrobatics act.

And less far from my usual comfort zone, for his last two complete evening show productions, I have been listed on Ken Bardowicks‘ posters as “Magical Advisor”. Part creator, part director, part magician and part spectator. It can, and mostly does, jump from the most crazy brainstorming of impossible sounding effects, to the solving of the most banal of problems. Pulling techniques and methods from classic turn of the century sources, or as new as anything being thought of today, and finding solutions and workarounds to weak-points and logical inconsistencies.

And although it is by definition a work together, I am more than happy to acknowledge the purely selfish advantages that it brings to me.

More than anything in my own work, be it magic or juggling, I strive to create material that I personally would like to see performed. The reason I create is to fill a gap: a gap that should contain that which I want to see. I am certainly not alone with this approach to my art, with a pedigree of such people as the film director Tim Burton, or the juggler Jay Gilligan, to back up this standpoint. At the very least, there will be one happy person when I perform my work (me!). And as I do believe that we (the human race) as people have very similar needs and desires, so there is a reasonable chance that what makes me happy, will also make others happy. My contributions as Magical Advisor, or director to other disciplines within the performing arts, is an obvious extension of this selfish desire.

Through my work with Ken and others, I suddenly have so many more possibilities to see that which I want to see performed! No longer does my own technique set or performance outlets have to limit what I can see on stage! I can suggest ideas, and someone else will do them for me! A killer routine that I would be too lazy to do the set-up for every day? A beautiful effect that I could never build the apparatus for? No problem! And although sometimes the work is more about detailed corrections and choreographies, the excitement of seeing those wonderful effects that otherwise I wouldn’t be able to see is what keeps the excitement present in our continuing working relationship.

In any relationship, compromises are necessary. Sometimes one must back off from purely personal desires or needs. And in this one specifically, it is Ken’s work, the effects, the show, that are the clear priority. Sometimes (but rarely) we search for solutions to something that doesn’t stir me in a particularly emotional manner, but most of the time, what I take is worth at least that which I can give. And sometimes it is good to remember to be selfish.

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