Nicole Burgio is an INCREDIBLE professional circus artist and teacher. She takes the concept of balance to another level. In the worlds of acrobatics, physical theater and circus, Nicole has decades of teaching and performance experience, both locally and abroad. She has worked with local companies like Almanac Dance Circus Theatre as a core ensemble member and acrobatic consultant, and she has performed as a solo artist in numerous international circus and arts festivals.
One of Nicole’s truly exciting projects is ‘Proyecto Colmena’, an intensive program which tours professional circus schools teaching amateur/semi-pro artists how to create meaningful ensemble work. This community-based ensemble building approach is dear to her heart. She loves guiding artists of all disciplines and experience levels through a process to create original or unique group movement.
As a handstand coach, Nicole has over 10 years experience teaching all levels of movers. She says that she's never worked with someone who couldn’t get upside down with her. As a participant, YOU CAN DO THIS!
In this workshop Nicole will focus on:
- Technique of handstand alignment
- Progressions towards strong and consistent handstands
-Developing strong personal practice habits. You will leave this workshop with lots of tools you can use on your own!
I talked to Nicole about her own journey with handstands and what a participant might expect from her workshop. Check out the interview with her below!
How did you get into your handstand practice?
I have been doing gymnastics and acrobatics for around 33 years now. I kind of found the circus later in life, around 24 or 25 years old. The Ringling Brothers Circus came to Philadelphia, and I used to go all the time with my mom. I took my boyfriend at the time to show him what it was all about, and I just fell in love. I started to study aerials: trapeze and silk. I then began to gravitate towards handstands because…you don’t need much - just a little bit of room and yourself. And, they’re addicting. Each time, you might be able to stay up for a little longer. You get to play the game of it a little longer. It becomes naturally addictive if you have that type of curiosity.
What are some of your personal handstand goals?
Professional Hand Balancers spend anywhere from 4-5 hours a day on their hands. I consider myself a physical theatre artist, so I like to have a bigger array of things I specialize in - I’m more of a generalist. Not to say that being a generalist is not without mastery, but it's a different type of mastery. You have a good handle on many things vs. one thing you’re very good at. For me, my handstand goals are gaining better balance on one hand. For example, I’m working on a position called Figa: it's a little bit asymmetrical, it's on one arm - it's very beautiful. It’s quite difficult. I am also diving a little more into dynamic contortion style positions that involve your feet touching your head, or lowering onto your chest while your feet are over your head. Crazy stuff like that. That all sounds so big and wild, but really what I love are the fundamentals. I think a classic handstand is beautiful - and it's actually one of the most difficult handstands out there. Just classic two hands straight up and down, boom- don’t move- that's tough! Fundamentals feel strong, and reliable. And I feel beautiful when I’m in them.
What do you think a handstand practice would bring to supplement other styles of dance?
Whether you’re on your hands or your feet, having a handstand practice WILL help with balance. It also helps your understanding proprioceptively of where you are in space. If you’re an advanced dancer or performer, you will have a much better understanding of how you are sharing the space with others - whether you’re turning, upside down, bending backwards, folding forward - all of this will feel more in control, because you’re doing the same thing just on your hands! For dancers it also brings more diversity. It teaches you how to enter weight into your hands. This opens up more vocabulary for you to traverse the floor. Dancers want to do the most they can do with their bodies to express. The more vocabulary you have, the more options you have to move your body. This gives you greater ability to tell your story how you want to tell it.
What would you say to someone who is a complete beginner looking to get into handstand practice?
Over my 33 years of experience and over the last 10 years of me coaching professionally, I have never met a client I couldn't work with, and I have never met a client who couldn’t get upside down. Even during this quarantine where I'm teaching virtually, I have always been able to work through things with my client. I know about one million and one progressions that will help people who are very nervous. I also have a masters degree in counseling and psychology. I like to use that linearly with my approach to teaching. Fear is a big factor. We need to walk with our fear; we have to carry it with us- we have to go upside down with it! There's no reason to say “Oh you won't be afraid,” or “just don’t worry about that.” I take the approach that says “Great, you’re afraid. And now we’re gonna do it.” I’ve taught all ages, all sizes, and all different types of folks. We’ve all been upside down together.
To participate in this workshop all you need is a small space in the middle of the room and a clear wall. Let's get upside down together!
Sunday, March 7th @ 2:30pm
Register through our homepage