Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Claude Victoria, first day

I’m in my seventh change of transportation vehicle over the last 12 hours( Car, Train, Airplane, Electro-train, Metro, Train and one more train)
Passing village after village trying to figure out the letters in the names of places mentioned in the speaker system of the train. I finally reach a small place called Saint Die. I get down, its freezing cold, inside the train hall there is a small man seated in a large coat. His hair is white, our eyes meet and I know right away - this is Claude.
He welcomes me in a mixture of English, Spanish and Portuguese (soon to become our way of communicating) and explains that his car is near by and that we have another 20 Km to go to his village. His village is even smaller. it’s a place called Plainfaing.
We talk on the way on equilibre, his students, his journeys as a circus performer. I get the instant sting of inspiration in my gut. This man was all over the middle east, Europe, Canada, Japan. You name the place, chances are he was over there performing at some point.
We reach the house, there is a light layer of snow on the ground and we get in.
Inside I meet 3 other students that are already there training with Claude. One of them is a French kid, circus performer, who has been to Brazil 5 times already and speaks some Portuguese. This kid grew up in a circus family. His mother is an ex trapeze artist and now days owns a circus with many connections all over the world. He is not going to a normal school like other 14 year old kids. He is using a distant correspondence school program. You name the circus art, this kid does it. Trapeze, corda-lisse, ring, big-ring, juggling (any type of juggling), acrobatics, trampoline, fixed wire, and of course now - equilibre. He is leaving tomorrow, so I wont have a chance to train with him.
The other two are a couple - circus performers from Spain, specializing in ‘Hand to Hand’ work. The girl-flyer is a 24 year old Spaniard from the Canarian Islands, the guy-porter is 28 year old from the south of Spain.
They have been trained in a circus school in Spain, and spent a year in Argentina training acrobatics and gymnastics. They have been all over Europe, trying to learn as much as they can, perfecting their skills, but the name Claude Victoria seemed to pop up anywhere they went to. They are here for a week already and will spend here 3-4 weeks in total. (If they can last that long…)
I go to my room to take a quick shower and we sit down to eat.
Very good food is served, Minestrone soup, mixed salad with green beans and a cooked sausage and meat Hungarian type dish. (The guys add a lot of fresh Bagetts to the mixture and a desert of banana split with ice cream is served. I only avoid it barely, by saying I am Diabetic *white lie*, but still Claude gives me a strange look….)
We eat and talk and there is a lot of laughter, everyone seems so different and relaxed, I feel mixed feelings about it. But there is no anxiety, and I feel the difference from a Capoeira situation, in which you have a rush of competitiveness and aggressiveness mixed with a deep desire to put yourself to the test against others. These people are artists and there is no pressure, I cant wait to get started tomorrow.
The walls are covered in photos of equilibrists, starting from the 1940’s and ending in now days, in amazing positions, performing difficult feats of balance and strength. Claude tells me about his students - Samuel Tetrault, the Alexis Brothers, Franco Dragone’s son (From Cirque du Soleil fame and Dragone company now days), his own sons who achieved amazing abilities, and the best of them all, his best student - Eric.
He also tells me of his teacher, an Italian that took him under his wing and taught him the art of balance. He says until today he has never witnessed more perfect body lines than the Italian‘s. There is a small photo on the wall from 1945, and I am amazed to see his Italian teacher standing on one arm, with a straight body position, on top of someone. I am amazed because any photo that I have seen from this time (and even up till the 1960’s), gymnastics and circus alike, were always with an arched, old school type of posture. Well, according to Claude, the Italian is the innovator. He is one of the first, if not the first to demand and perfect the straight, clean body position in handstand work. We are talking here years before the straight position were acknowledged as the optimal one in gymnastics and circus circles. I am in the presence of greatness.
Good night, I am beat, going to sleep like a baby…

14 comments:

terry huffman said...

It is great to see hard work pay off. Best wishes and safe travel!

hunter said...

Sounds awesome Ido. Really exciting stuff. Keep us updated.

Basil said...

Woooow, That is amazing! Keep me posted.

Olivier 2GA said...

Discovering this universe that is new to me... It's really exiting... I'm amazed by the beauty of these bodies, all tended in action... The nude pictures are really beautiful, can you tell us who are they and who took the pictures?
Have a great experience (I bet you will) here in france…

Ido Portal said...

Welcome to the blog, guys. Thank you for your kind words...
The nude pictures are of one of Claude's female students, her name escapes me right now, but I will find out.

The beauty of those bodies suspended in real life and in photo is something else. The body contour and mass is portrayed in a very special way.
Ido.

Shira said...

Ido, very inspiring post! As I know you, it must have been really hard not to get excited and start training right away.

Ido Portal said...

Vilha, actualy, I am starting to calm down in my old age...
Also, there is a different kind of atmosphere in Plainfaing. Everything is calm, Yoga-like, deep breaths and slow food. No rush.

Frederic said...

Thank you for your blog. It is indeed time to give credit where credit is due. Claude has had the greatest impact on the world of handbalance and hand to hand. His partner routine and "series" are to this day used in the best shows around the world. While I studied with him and greatly appreciated him, he didn't have the greatest influence on my handbalancing technique but has always been a mentor like no equal in the aestetic and beauty of the art. Try not pointing your toes and see what happen:) Again thank you for honoring a master's life work. Frederic

Lalize said...

Salut, moi aussi m'entraine avec Claude!!!C'est tres fort!!!Bonne entrainement!!!Alice!

MUSA-KUMINATA said...

Beeseder ?
My name is Raul circus artist from Colombia. In this moment im in France ang I´ve been looking for a Claude Victoria such a long time... and thanks to your blog I found him.I´d like to take classes with him, but i don´t know how to contact him for getting all the info about his classes...so if u can help me I´d really apreciatted it... Toda rabba!!Raúl

Will said...

Thank you posting your experience with Calude Victoria. Before this I never new such a thing about equilibre or that it exists. You have truly opened a new love and passion in my life. For that I thank you Ido.

Ido said...

Will,
it is my pleasure, my friend. Enjoy this new passion. (obsession??)

I am less than two weeks away from my second visit to Claude, stay tuned to read about my experiences.

Will said...

Yes indeed it is an obsession. :) Looking forward to your next visit to Claude.

Jonathan Fletcher said...

thanks for this blog!!
i wish to sstudy with him and u one day