Two-high, a movement with two people stacked, one atop another, heads toward the sky. A base and a flyer. I am the flyer, spry and compact for my height, which is 5’1/2″. The flyer’s job is to listen to the base’s questions and answer them.
The flyer’s job is to listen for the base’s movements and respond calmly. To trust the base enough to give over your balance to her and the air. The flyer’s job is to be willing to let go of the need to be in charge.
I like this job – scaling my friend’s thigh or calf to their shoulders, being up high, listening for the call. In an acrobatic sense, I like flying, knowing where I am in space, finding a safe place to land.
This is exactly the way I approach friendships anyhow, like a childhood trust fall. Either you’re a person I can trust to be there, or you’re not.
Two-high needs both a base and a flyer to work. Neither person is in charge of the situation, not really. An experienced flyer will speak up when they know what’s going right or wrong.
Being a flyer is, in a lot of ways, like being a femme. A perspective depending on our willingness to accept our grace and our human-ness, a perspective requiring us to accept vulnerability as a form of fierce strength and defiance.
Acrobatics are a poetics of the body. We repeat the movements until they are memories. Some moves live in our bodies naturally. Some moves we have to let go of – they’re not for us. Other moves we have to work at diligently, the way you work at something you love.
Fortuna and I have started training together regularly again, now that the full-time program at Aloft is wrapping up.
Having our coach Char there makes the learning process a lot easier. She spots us and makes sure we play at our level. She watches our form and gets us to quickly recognize our patterns.
Char gives us life sustaining instruction in two or three-word commands – “High knee!” “Drop your heels!” I relish the feedback because it is so hard to see yourself. Just like I tell my students, feedback is a gift.
She has us do two-high approximately a hundred times before I get to flip off Fortuna’s shoulders onto a crash mat as a reward.
In two-high, Fortuna keeps her arms strong and even. She is a tiny powerhouse, fiercely determined. To make this work, I need to step up to her thigh crease and swiftly raise my knee to stand up in one, smooth, steady motion.
The acrobat in me is delighted by these details, by the process. Flying puts me deeply in my body, where I know what is possible. It makes me feel like we’re limitless.
Fortuna pushes artistry and ideas. She won’t give in because we both know this work is valuable beyond what we can physically accomplish. Acrobatics are a vehicle for our stories. Acrobatics are a poetics of figuring things out.
Who says we’re too small? Who says we’re too much? Or too old? Who says a woman’s worth depends only on her beauty, or her body, or her willingness? I’d like them to behold this glorious duo.