Sunday, May 25, 2014

The beginning of the end - Vancouver

I've been in Vancouver over a week, and Greg and the kids a week before that - and have not found the time / energy to blog.  We are busy here!  This also means we're doing less sightseeing, which tends to make up a lot of my blog posts.

An overview - we have landed in one of the absolutely most beautiful apartments we've experienced on tour.  It's on the 31st floor of a building overlooking the harbor of False Creek, with floor-to-ceiling windows.  To my kids' delight, it's also furnished better than any of the others we've stayed in, including books, board games, interesting art, and binoculars!  Downstairs, we are directly on a waterfront bike path, and it's less than a mile to the Cirque site.  So we are biking, every day, rain or shine.  Most days Baz actually rides his unicycle.

Here's a photo of the Cirque site - it's a gorgeous downtown location.  And though the families aren't all living together, we are all within walking distance, and there's a playground directly outside Gate 1, so plenty of gathering opportunities.

But, back to the busy-ness - there are a few basic things going on.  1.  I flew home to Philadelphia in early May, for a week, to oversee staff changes at the Philadelphia School of Circus Arts.  2.  Greg is training his replacement for the Scientist character in Totem.  3.  We (all of the school parents, a team of Totem staff and I) are putting together a Kids Circus Show extravaganza, scheduled for June 15.

I can honestly say this is the culmination, for me, of 4 years of getting to know these children, and working with them on circus skills, and bringing the families together.  It has involved a massive group effort, and the vision we developed at the very beginning of the tour - of meaningful training, of the artists sharing their knowledge with the children - has finally come to pass in these last months of family tour life.  We are all benefitting immensely.  We are all, also, exhausted.

Trainings have to happen early, in the mornings before school.  So at least 4 days a week, we arrive early at the site - artists bleary-eyed from the previous night's late show.  We do warmup games.  We do strength exercises.  But as the months have gone on, the trainings have gotten more and more specific, as the kids choose and develop individual & group acts, and work one-on-one with their coaches.

As the organizer / coach with the most available time, I am responsible for 6 of the 18 acts in the show. But that leaves a dozen others, which are being trained and choreographed, costumed and musicked, by 9 other parents.  I am also the general stage manager - putting together the schedule of trainings and coordinating everything with everybody.  The artist / coaches, for the most part, have little patience for lazy or sloppy kids.  That ethic is going a long way towards making these acts something to be proud of.  I tend to be the recreational voice, though, trying to keep everyone happy and not too stressed.  The audience is simply going to be the Totem company.  But the fact that we are doing this on stage has required the help of all manner of Totem employees - riggers, carpenters, lighting designers, artistic directors, backstage managers, costumers.  Phew, it's making me tired just thinking about all of it.  Switching gears….

A few other things I can tell you about Vancouver.  First, everything here is atrociously expensive.  I knew this about Canada, but it didn't prevent the sticker shock the first time I went to the grocery store. Every price I see, I do a double-take.  How can it possibly cost that much?

Second, the high Canadian taxes do continue to provide services, like the excellent Vancouver Central Library.  The kids love this conveyor-belt book return system, which automatically separates the books out into their appropriate sections and dumps them in the right bin.

On the way to the site one evening, we bumped into the Vancouver Unicycle Club.  They get together every Thursday night, along the path right outside our apartment, and play unicycle hockey.  Baz had a great time when we came back the following week.  This will be a regular thing for us, I think.

Right now it's pouring rain, and I'm enjoying a quiet afternoon at home.  The window over my desk looks out at the harbor, and I'm watching kayakers, struggling through the downpour.  That can't be fun.  For the most part we've had beautiful weather here, but a little rain is to be expected.

1 comment:

  1. So will Greg's replacement do the same sort of act? Or will he step into that character and but have his own act?
    Does this mean your family won't continue on with the show to New Zealand? Be sure to make the beautiful drive to Whistler before you head home.