The one element that has been missing from my life in Toulouse is sport-like activity, and the end of the week finally brought an end to that! Thursday I tried out the "circus arts" class at le Mirail, and Friday I finally successfully went to my rock climbing gym!
So I just decided to try out circus arts because lets be real, who wouldn't? I got to the class early, having left myself lots of time and needing most of it to find the room where they put things like this. I was so early, in fact, that the room was still full of high schoolers when I first looked in to it- the sight made my blood run cold. I have an irrational fear/dislike of large groups of teenagers, especially foreign ones. Luckily, they left, trailing a cloud of Axe in their wake, and the first woman to come in gave me a rather frosty welcome. I was not encouraged by this response from the person I assumed was the teacher, but I changed clothes anyway and tried to look like I was getting ready. Other students started trickling in and they seemed much more friendly, plus a woman who turned out to be the main teacher. She was much kinder and informed me that I would be fine as long as I wasn't getting graded. Hold on- you can get graded for circus? As I understood it, I think you can major in circus at le Mirail. Can you imagine telling your parents you are majoring in circus? I think they would say "I thought you just ran away to the circus...why do I have to pay for it?"
Anyway, class itself was cool! Started with some basic warm ups and then games very similar to acting games I have played before. We paired up and mirrored each others actions, that kind of thing. It was comforting to have something I knew how to do to start with. Then we got to pick which activity we wanted to focus on: balance, juggling or "aerials". I (like most) picked aerials, meaning I got to play on the trapeze, a hoop hanging from two cords, a rope and two ropes made of silk material (if you have ever seen Cirque du Soleil, think those silks that people flip around in). The teacher who gave me the frosty greeting, a woman named Pamela, gave us a set of exercises on each element to try and do. It was a thing of beauty to watch her demonstrate, she has obviously been doing this for a long time. I could do almost nothing of what she showed me, although I was reasonably impressed how easily I could get myself onto the trapeze and hoop, and I did manage to get my feet over my head like twenty times. There were mats underneath us at all times, so when I couldn't hold on to the silks it didn't even hurt to slide down to the floor. During the last part of class the main teacher came by and gave us two words to try to work into some sort of presentation. This was when circus began to feel like a mix between acting and contemporary dance. She just told me "round and heat" and I was to make something out of that. I tried to puzzle it out with my partner but every time I tried to make a real story out of it my partner said "no no, it's a lot freer then that". Thus the contemporary dance. We worked on that for awhile and eventually had something, but I didn't stay to show the teacher because I had to run to class. It meant I didn't really get lunch, but it was so much fun! I think I will stick with it...although I guess we will have to see.
Then Friday the only activity I had was rock climbing! For once, everything worked like a dream. I found the gym without a problem, the gate was open, the teacher was there, and off we went! The students were really friendly, I feel like I could make some real friends in this class! After warming up a little we paired up and worked on our feet placements on the rocks. That part was climbing without a rope, so we didn't go very high. Then we hooked ourselves up to a cord (with a course on how to do so for us beginners) and really got to climbing! The wall was not easy, and lets face it, I am not very good. My hands were already beaten from the circus equipment and were not pleased by the rough edges of the rocks. My arms were sore before I started and started to tremble before I was done climbing. The rock climbing shoes also really hurt my feet. But it was so much fun! My partner, a guy named Alexander, was very nice and didn't seem to mind I was so bad. He seems really cool, hopefully I will see some of him outside of class. He said he wants to meet Americans and I told him we always want to hang out with French people, so it seems to be a good match. I also talked to two nice girls, but they left before class was over so I didn't really get a chance to talk to them. Overall, it was an incredibly successful adventure, even if my shoulders, arms and hands want to kill me right now. I may have some really hard core calluses on my hands if I keep this up all semester, but you know, it could be fun :) I miss you all, and would love to know how you are doing!