circus – DIAVOLO

Cirque du Soleil friends mentioned the Diavolo troupe.

They look pretty cool!

diavolo.jpgDiavolo was founded in 1992 in Los Angeles by Jacques Heim to create large-scale interdisciplinary performances which examine the funny and frightening ways individuals act with their environment. The craftiness and wit of Diavolo is captured by the stylized fox logo. Constantly changing the image presented to the audience, Diavolo has developed a movement vocabulary that creates an almost cinematic experience of powerful images that develop abstract narratives of the human condition.

The company is comprised of dancers, gymnasts and actors who create performances collaboratively under the guidance of Heim. The sets created are outrageous and surrealistic and form an intrinsic part of each piece of work. Everyday items such as doors, chairs and stairways provide the back-drop for dramatic movement – leaping, flying, twirling – that creates metaphors for the challenge of relationships, the absurdities of life and the struggle to maintain our humanity in an increasingly technological world.

The 10 member company currently has over a dozen works in repertoire (ranging from 10 to 75 minutes in length), most of which travel easily and can be adapted to large and small scale venues.

I will try to catch their touring show.


more photos from m @ r i t e s s on Flickrdiavolo-pic.jpg

closing the gym to spectators?

keep-out-metal-sign.jpgOpenness, honesty, and transparency is the best case scenario in sport as in life.

I am suspicious of all gyms that are closed to spectators. It begs the question, “What do they have to hide?” — even when there is nothing to hide.

That said, there are better and worse ways to open a training venue to spectators. Altadore Gymnastics has the best set-up I’ve seen: big one way mirrored windows. Parents can see in, but the kids cannot see out.

Funtastics was the first gym I saw to provided closed circuit video monitoring of those parts of the gym not visible from the spectator area. Another great idea.

video – funny – rings pulley machine

I grew up in a gym with a “ring machine” — a pulley device which reduces your body weight allowing you to hold perfect strength positions including Iron Cross. I’ve always like them.

Coach Patrick Carmichael from Island Gymnastics Academy demonstrates the incorrect use of this device.

Click PLAY or watch the clip on YouTube.

book – Rhythmic Gymnastics

In my quest to list the (surprisingly few) excellent books for coaches, I give the thumbs up to Rhythmic Gymnastics by Nadejda Jastrjembskaia and Juri Titov.

As with many Russian authors, I find this book overly academic and methodical. No need to read every word. But if looking for a few good ideas to improve your acrobatics program — it makes an excellent browse.

I went first to the Developing Flexibility chapter as this is where I have most to learn from Rhythmic Gymnastics. The text advocates using a combination of static (1/3) and dynamic (2/3) stretching drills “avoiding abrupt or jerky movements”.

Other key points:

  • girls flexibility increases drastically between ages 7 and 10 — and is maximized between 11 and 13
  • do flexibility improvement exercises at the end of a vigorous warm-up and at the end of the work-out
  • There is not much mention of the excellent musical warm-ups typical of Rhythmic training. (The Canadian Men’s National team has a similar dynamic warm-up though not to music which is excellent.)

    This one is widely distributed so you may find it in your local library.

    Rhythmic Gymnastics

    was McCool the best of all-time?

    Many predicted Courtney McCool would win the 2004 Olympics.

    She was the complete package. No weaknesses. Great on all 4 events. Flexible. Powerful. Artistic. Unbelievably perfect form and line.

    But Carly Patterson made far fewer mistakes and went on to win in Athens.

    Click PLAY to see McCool highlights or watch the video in YouTube.

    Courtney signed a letter of intent to compete for NCAA champions Georgia in the coming year.

    Was McCool the best of all-time? I believe she was.

    If you can think of a better all-around performer, declare your choice in the COMMENTS below.

    Coaches and Judges Congress – Portland, Oregon

    Multnomah Athletic Club, Portland, Or. October 13 – 15, 2006

    r2rlogo.jpgSadly, I’m going to miss the Pacific Northwest Congress this year. It was excellent in 2005 featuring Canadian Olympic Coach Tony Smith and many, many great presenters.

    If you can make it to Portland, I highly recommend you go. Dave Adlard is on the organizing committee so you know it will be well done.

    More information on Congress 2006 on the Funtastics website.

    corporate sponsorship of gymnastics

    Around the world many are envious of the corporate sponsorships enjoyed by Gymnastics USA. Before 1984 the organization was badly funded. But in 2006 the financial future looks bright.

    Chevron will provide direct financial support to members of the Men’s National Team as it prepares for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. The program has been expanded to provide event sponsorship rights and support to the Women’s National Team Training Center at the Karolyi Ranch in Texas. …

    All six members of the 2004 Men’s U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Team, which won the silver medal in Athens, were Team Chevron athletes.

    Chevron, a USA Gymnastics sponsor since 1998, has extended its sponsorship of USA Gymnastics through 2008.

    If you want these companies to continue choosing gymnastics over many, many other causes, support Visa, T.J. Maxx, Adidas, GK/Elite Sportswear and 24 Hour Fitness and the other major sponsors of USA Gymnastics.

    video – North Korean “Mass Games”

    There’s no doubt the most spectacular large gymnastics displays are in North Korea.

    Canadian coach David Burgess visited years ago and became something of a foreign celebrity there. He was several times interviewed on Korean TV.

    Dave brought back photos from the “Mass Games” from that trip and we were blown away by the scale of the shows.

    Click PLAY or watch the clip on YouTube.

    These spectacles are criticized as totalitarian government propaganda. But a British Film crew was allowed unrestricted access to film A State of Mind, a documentary following two North Korean child gymnasts and their families for over eight months leading up to the 2003 Pyongyang Mass Games.

    The movie paints a much more sympathetic picture of one of the Axis of Evil nations.

    Watch the movie trailer on YouTube.