Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Gaoqiao performance requires high skills and varies in forms. Usually the performers tie two long stilts to their feet, making them higher than others when standing on stilts. On their "moving stage", they are deeply loved by masses.
Click on the Spring Festival link above to read more about this highly intense performance.
The top cover is the Hebrew edition, and the bottom one is of course...the English, this is one of the few Dr. Seuss books that I have yet to read, but the summary goes like this-
In an island kingdom, King Birtram of Binn dedicates himself to safeguarding the populace which lives in a precarious existence.
This is because the kingdom has a bowl shaped terrain with the floor below sea level, surrounded by water. The only thing holding back the water from completely consuming the land is the ring of trees that form a natural dam. Unfortunately, there are predator birds, called Nizzards, who continually feed on the trees which could cause a die off that could mean disaster. To control the damage, the King uses an army of cats called the Cat Guard that protects the trees. The management of this army and the maintenance of the treeline occupies much of the King's duties on top of his mundane ones.
However, in the afternoon each day when his regular responsibilities are done, the King enjoys himself with a rigorous cavorting on his personal stilts. The populace does not begrudge this unusual indulgence considering they deeply respect his diligence.
However, the Prime Minister, Lord Droon, spitefully despises the undignified pastime and resolves to put an end to it. To do so, he steals the stilts and convinces the King that he's better off without them. However, the loss of the King's one pleasure puts him into deep melancholy that ruins the morale of the Cat Guard army and the tree guarding is dangerously neglected to the point where flooding is imminent.
However, the King's page boy, who was forced to hide the stilts by the Prime Minister, resolves to return them. While the Prime Minister tries to quarantine him for measles, the boy escapes and rushes to the King using the stilts. At this boon, the King's spirit is renewed and he rallies the Patrol Cat army to save the trees just in time.
At the end, the Prime Minister is imprisoned and the page boy is rewarded with his own pair of stilts to enjoy with the King at the completion of their daily duties.
Thanks to ANSWERS.COM for this fun one!
Thanks to Kircher Society for this post!
This stilted dragon is from a performance called the 'Twilight Spectacle' that has been made possible thanks to support from Insite (a partnership of all Local Authorities and Arts Council England East).
This stilted bird came from the Washington Tyne & Wear Kite Festival.
This blue beauty was created by Los Kaos, and this troupe creates creatures that can move their eyes, their eyelids open and close independently, their ears swivel and move back, their noses wrinkle and their whiskers glow in the dark and under UV!
They each have a custom-built internal sound system, allowing them to breathe, grunt, purr etc.....simply lovely.
And this duo is from the European group called Incandescence, the black and white costumes combined with using 4 legs is very striking.
These images are from www.stiltwalker.com where there is a great man doing the best he can to inform others of stilt walkers all over this land too! He has a great archive of stilt walking history posted on his site dating from 1891 to just a few years ago.
"Over 40,000 miles walked on stilts. 27 years a stilt walker - age 49 years. Human Skyscraper 11 1/2 feet to top of hat. "Hi-Jack Redmond the world's most famous long distance stilt walker and motion advertiser. Atlantic City, N. J. to California to New York City and return my longest and last hike"
Nationally Famous and only long distance stilt Walker. Over 30 years a National Advertiser, and hiked 55,000 miles along highways - thru U. S.A. - delivering messages for friends, relatives and officials along routes on stilts. Now enroute Hollywood, California, to New York City, Atlantic City and return- a 10,000 mile hike. Favors appreciated. Yours truly, J. France Redmond"
This woman is one hell of a performer, I love the routine, I love her style and if you watch the video I am sure you will love what she is about too!
Ladies and Gents I introduce you to Ms. Eva La Dare, click on her name to see more about this Angel.
My favorite thing is when people walk up to me and ask,"How is the weather up there?" this always makes me laugh when I am doing a gig inside. I normally reply with,"Well, there is a slight chance of perspiration with a mild case of anticipation!"...this usually leaves people a tad perplexed.
The design on the right is a basic idea on how to create a pair of stilts without a shin guard which IS needed in order to walk in them, this design can be fabricated out of
2X2's, 2X4's, and plywood with a more detailed blueprint.
The version to the left is a stilt having multiple-articulating, three segment base provides enhanced stability and a better translation of walking forces. The intermediate base segment is attached to both toe and heel base segments in a manner that permits relative rotational movement between each segment. Providing an intermediate base segment having a length that is equal to or greater than the toe and heel base segments enables a more natural forward translation of walking forces, instead of requiring the heel to absorb most of the energy as in previous stilt designs. It's a patented design that was created by Jeff Jay of Stiltwerks-inc. and check out the finished product.
The bottom image shows a version of a pegged stilt that is created by a company out of Australia called Juggleart.
Tradition in the circus would call these a modern "Chinese Poll" since this company is creating these out of aluminum, with their own version of a back calf support leading into the shin guard, or a back calf guard which is of a French design. These can also be made out of wood by a skilled craftsman and the image also shows shoes bolted into the foot beds, which do help with a secured support for ones foot....but can be quite unconventional when the wearer is ready to remove their stilt, for someone has to carry a spare pair of shoes or have them stashed close by.
I posted these pictures to give one a general idea of the variety of stilts that a person can wear, if they find themselves interested in taking up or learning such a skill. As I always say,"You definitely get a different perspective on life when walking on stilts!".
And the above design came from a Build Your Stilts Site that one can check out for further detail.
The above is a excerpt from the archives of SEVENCOLORS.
It truly amazes me how long this skill has been around, I have been told that there was even a Native American tribe that was known for being stilt walkers, I believe they were located in the Arizona/New Mexico region....I am still in research of the facts.
But I always find it to be quite interesting the many generations of stilt walkers, and how this talent is so spread through out the world. Africa, South America, North America, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Asia, the United Kingdom, and so on and so on.....each place has it's own roots behind this art.
And then there is the many types of different styles of stilts, from the archaic to the new hybrid bio mechanic.....this is definitely a evolution of sorts for ALL cultures, and let's not forget the stilts!
The more I learn the more I am in a constant state of awe.
This is a man in Durbar on 1 stilt from the writings of a boy named Jake who said,"This guy came by three times on stilts. This time he's holding up one stilt while bouncing on the other. The second time he was just walking. The third time he came by with a boy on his shoulders and the boy was not holding on."
And these are African stilt dancers in ceremonial dress.
I have been a stilt walker since the summer of 1999 when I first performed at the Oregon Country Fair with a mummery troupe called Risk of Change. Being a paying patron of the O.C.F. since 1990, when a dear friend of mine asked me to be a guest artist with this highly creative group of ambient entertainers how could I not welcome the change? To have been on the outside looking in for many years, and then be able to be on the inside looking out...I never suspected that such a change would metamorphose me into the man I am today!
Part of my requirement of performing was to choose what characters/themes I was going to participate in, one being a "Airatarian", a creature that lives in the sky and when upon the soil of our Earth....gravity would stretch them very tall. Well I found out that in order to accomplish such a feat, I would have to be walking on stilts, and the creator of said concept was a man named George Long. George taught me how to fabricate a pair of "Chinese Poles" which is a circus term for pegged stilts, they are the best to actually learn on and especially for uneven ground.
Well, I made the stilts and my next feat would be to learn how to walk on them....so off to see Roger Waters before I left for the O.C.F. and I brought my stilts along for the show. The parking lot of the Gorge was packed with R.V.s and vans as well as many a concert goer, we had time to kill after setting up camp and this became my stepping ground. I fell many a times, people were kind in assisting me back up, and after a sunburn and MANY hours I found myself stilt walking.
Then 1 week after the show it was off to the Oregon Country Fair to prepare for a experience that would change me forever. I arrived 4 days earlier to set up camp, and on that Monday night my friend Matthew convinced me into strapping on our stilts and take a night time stroll through the Fair grounds armed with only our little flash lights. We walked about 150 feet out on the pathway and then back with NO problems, the next day it rained, and then on Wed. we decided to attempt fate again....mission accomplished with even further distance. Then our stilts would not be strapped to our feet until Saturday, or as the Fair states it "Saturns day", and we walked about 1 1/2 miles in a very faced moving parade, then later as "Airatarians" to which we created our stilts for.
Now with my 8th year quickly approaching I cannot be anymore grateful for that life changing experience.