On the Ringling Midway, 1898

On the Ringling Midway, 1898
and on their way to guilt-free amusement. They did not enter the big top with "issues."

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Encore for Winnie Colleano! ...

Winnie Colleano, sister of Con (perhaps the reason why she never received the press and fame she deserves) will get an encore from me.

Goaded on by the comment left on my earlier post by "Anonymous," whom I can only guess may be a trapeze performer him/herself, I re-watched the video. Aside from affirming Colleano's heal catches as "fantastic," Anonymous calls the routine "basic trap tricks" the style "pretty much Circus Smirkus." Am I living on the wrong planet?

The essence of great art is simplicity, such that we do not see the actor or the circus artist's technique, but with them we take the journey. In the actor we see only the character. In the trapeze artist, only the gracefully soaring bird, No, not easy, but the greats flirt with this paradigm, and some master it.

Rarely if ever have I witnessed a single trap act so fluidly presented, such that the technical skills. "tricks," if you will, do not project as such, but are transformed by the artist's mastery into a greater impression of continuous motion.

Anonymous: Not only do you, in my opinion, insult Winnie Colleano, you also insult a charming student show, Circus Smirks. Might you be of the San Francisco school?

Perhaps you are of the newer class who fairly shun "tricks" as old circus, favoring excessively detailed choreography, often on a single trap or fabric that does not swing very far in either direction. There is now even a new term for this genre, "static trapeze." I wish those who pursue it more success than I have yet observed; perhaps they will invent something as exhilarating as what a few gifted duos (usually male-female, sometimes same sex) are doing with the "sensual fabrics" over more actively inspired rings, combining romantic imagery with terrific maneuvers aloft. All of which, as I see it, takes them out of the "bed sheets" category. Static they are not. Static, the circus was never.

The evidence on YouTube is irrefutable. There is none of the obvious muscle, of the strained interlocking movements too often the mark of a compartmentalized routine, of the stops and the starts ... Here is a gifted artist continually and gracefully in motion, flowing with a kind of a serene joyful abandon, and finishing her flight with a perfectly climactic jump from bar to vertical pole, down which she slides.

I was about to support my view by posting here similar accolades of others, from Fred Bradna to some comments on the You Tube posting, but it matters not. What matters to me is what I see and feel while watching this magnificent artist at work, who makes it feel not like work at all.

That's the essence, around my ring, of greatness.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

None of the above. In aerial work there is something known as 'beats' - ie. pumping your legs and body to get your feet up to the bar and into the next trick - Winnie's would be considered amatuerish at best today. If a performer needs a 'beat' to get her feet to the bar, it should be done with grace - legs straight, feet pointed, back arched. You can see this at the beginning of Mara Cristiani's heel act

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hTJauG6W278

Then there are such things as leg and arm extension and pointed toes to give the movement the grace a trapeze act deserves. No, not an over choreographed bit of fluff, but something that moves each trick beyond the category of just 'ta da'.

Sylvia Zerbini is a performer whose style is an example of gorgeous style. And her strength far surpasses Winnie's.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pjl5xg5uTHQ&feature=related

As far as skill level (apart from the incredible heel catches) almost everything in that routine can be learned in a few practice sessions.
Her style is typical of older acts. Just like every facet of human endeavour, from athletics to circus skills, time has marched on, and in most cases , the levels of skill keep improving. What many of the old acts had was the thrill of height and danger, though I see Winnie is performing over a net (very smart considering the exreme possibility of missing the heel catches) I was wrong, the coaches at Smirkus have taught the kids, for the most part the value of poise.
If you're into heart stopping single trap acts with beautiful strength and poise, I don't think anyone compared to Struppi Hanneford, Zaqueline Zerbini, Norma Fox, and some of the other women of that era.

Here's one, and I know you won't like the drama and choreography (I don't either), but the level of difficulty of her still routine is outstanding. Aurelia Cats at the Lido


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aLgMEXCyeN0&feature=fvwrel

So, Winnie might have been a good act for her time, but I'm surprised at the level of praise you gave it in comparrison to performers that came after her.

Then if you want to see modern and ugly, here's one for you

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SDLGd-7qTYs&feature=related

Showbiz David said...

FYI, I've seen Sylvia Zerbini, when she combined lyra and horses. Loved her entrance. Nice lyra. I loved La Norma, so too Struppi.

Each artist is different. You might find Pinito Del Oro limited, I found her mystically enchanting. The intangibles of the spirit. You might affirm Miss Mara, I found her to be muscular and functional and oddly unaesthetic after having been wowed by La Norma. "Strength"? I don't ever to my knowledge look for that element, I look hoping not to see obvious muscle but something higher. I look for transcendence.

Still, I stand by what I said.

Anonymous said...

Like all acrobatics - greatness is not possible without strength