I took pictures at a couple shows last week. At Circus Scare Us, it was pretty dark and I didn't have a good seat, and I had a tough time taking decent pictures. It was a great show though. If you're not keeping an eye on my circus calendar and going to every single show, you're missing out.
On Friday, I arrived 30 minutes early to SkyDancers, determined to get a good seat, but the first act was Project Bandaloop performing on the side of the building in the alley next to the theater. But it turns out that if you hang out waiting 30 minutes for a show, you have plenty of time to strategize, and I managed to snag the front and center seat when we came inside.
I had a great view of the show and even got to feel the wind as one woman swung right over me. As a result of location, some recent practice, more favorable lighting, and highly photogenic acts, I got some great photos, which I've posted both here and on Flickr. I didn't even take that many pictures, partly because I was mesmerized by the fantastic performances. In several acts, I took just one shot and found it came out just right.
I didn't get to watch and experience the show as much as I would have had I not spent the whole time watching the light meter and fiddling with camera settings, but that's always the tradeoff. The other tradeoff is that SLR cameras make a lot of noise (from the mirror flipping out of the way), and during some of the acts it wasn't really appropriate for me to be doing that. I think if I'd been anyone else in the audience, I'd have been annoyed by that jerk with the camera. I held back a bit at the time, but I think next time I'll refrain entirely when there isn't music loud enough to drown me out.
Tonight I scored a free ticket to the dress rehearsal of Cirque du Soleil's Kooza, which opens tomorrow in SF. It was especially fun because we had three or four rows packed with people from the circus school. I somehow ended up surrounded by clowns, so instead of critiquing the acrobatics all night, I got to hear people discussing clown technique in clown jargon, but mostly we shut up and watched the show.
As with most Cirque shows, I could have done with a lot less clowning and foofy story, but the acrobatic parts were good. Even the contortion act was good, which was nice since they're from our school so we'd have been cheering regardless. I wanted to see more of the trapezist. Less clown! More trapeze! And after many years of being a juggling geek, I finally saw Anthony Gatto perform. It turns out he's really good.
I saw the teeterboard act practicing last week at school. How cool is that? Cirque du Soleil comes to my gym to practice! Most people were just irritated at how crowded the room was for a few days, but I'm not quite that jaded yet.
The handbalancer was rock solid and made crazy hard moves look easy, but my favorite act was the giant tandem hamster wheel of doom. It looked like tons of fun and insanely dangerous.
If you see the show, try to sit towards audience-left. You don't need to be close to the stage (the theater/tent is not very large), but sections 101 and 201 are much better than 102 and 202. 104 and 103 are about even, I guess, but 200 and 201 are better than either of them. You heard it here first.
2007 is winding up, but before it does, there are five more circus shows to see: Circus Finelli, Circus Oz, an aerial and clown student show, Frolic, and Sweet Can Productions. Plus Kooza makes six, for those of you who didn't catch it before it opened.
I've learned that the circus apparatus I joking referred to as a "giant tandem hamster wheel of doom" is actually called a "wheel of death". My apologies for any confusion.
I spent Sunday playing hide and seek. I woke up at 4:30am, drove 120km down to Uvas Canyon County Park to look for a 15 year old boy who'd been missing since Saturday afternoon. Neighbors found him five minutes after we deployed.
Searches usually take all day (and are usually fruitless), but there we were, all dressed up with no one to look for. Going home to sleep was tempting, but three of us opted to help out with a K9 exercise we'd heard needed some extra bodies. Urban Search & Rescue dogs were being tested at the Structural Collapse Rescue Training Site in East Palo Alto. Our job was to hide quietly under several tons of simulated post-apocalyptic rubble for an hour while dogs tried to find us. I took lots of pictures when I wasn't hiding.