Part Two – Get out of my space!
Space. It is a very valuable thing in a circus school. The teachers need space to teach their students, the students need space to practice. Space is especially valuable if the weather does not permit you to practice outside, and in Lomme, France, there are maybe 10 days in the entire year with good weather.
At my school, the recreational circus classes have priority over the rest of us for available class and practice spaces. This is because they bring in more money than we do*. Every week, there is a schedule that is printed and posted on the notice board with slots already marked out for the recreational and professional classes. If there are any slots left, individuals can then reserve a circus tent or a room to practice in.
One time, I reserved a room to practice in. Usually when you do that, it means you want to work alone, with no one else in the space. Normally, this is how people create, choreograph, compose. This is what I wanted to do. About 20 minutes into my 2 hours and a half, two girls from the room next door came in. They asked if I had reserved the space (yes) and if they could practice some front walkovers on one side of the room since there wasn’t enough space in the room where they were having their class. They wouldn’t take long – ten to fifteen minutes. Since they asked so nicely and I understood the struggle to get a space, I said yes.
Five minutes later they came back, with their teacher. Ok. So it looked like it went from practising a technique a few times to having an actual class. But it will be short, I told myself. Gradually, they took up more and more space in the room till I was left with about half of the space I needed. Also, with other people in the room, I couldn’t really focus on choreographing or play my music as loudly as I needed it. So I figured I would also practice some techniques of my own while waiting for them to finish. I started doing back walkovers, when another student from the class next door came into the room, saw his fellow classmates and assumed it was a free-for-all. He started doing all kinds of flips and took up my space. The first two girls didn’t say anything. So I just went and sat in a corner and watched them. I wasn’t trying to be passive aggressive; I just wanted to see how long it would take them to do the right thing and 1)tell their teacher and the other guy that I it was my space and 2)wrap things up quickly so I could go on composing.
As it turned out, very long indeed. After an hour, I decided to politely ask them to leave.
It was an hour of composing time that I had lost and couldn’t get back. I wasn’t angry, just a bit peeved because if I had the space for longer, I could have made more progress on what I was choreographing. I know I could have said something sooner, but I didn’t want to be territorial (which is my wont). I didn’t mind sharing the space for fifteen minutes, which was how long they said they needed. But the fact that they encroached on my space and time was just not respectful. And I know that there are people in this school whom they’d never ask to share a space with because they would get a violent NO in response. Maybe I should become one of those people…
*I hope to write on the politics of circus schools at a later date.