Thursday, September 11, 2008

Mr Alexander Böck

We have to thank Mr Alexander Böck for the invention of these stilts. Very little is known about the inventor himself but it is said that the jumping stilts were created based on his in-depth research into the walking and running movements of the kangaroo, the stilt was developed and evolved over time to mimic this and now offers the end-user boundless possibilities. It is widely recognized within the sport that once mastered you can run faster than 20mph and jump 7ft high!

The biggest exposure the stilts saw was when the jumping stilts were featured in an advert for Zurich with the slogan "Because change happens" in which it asks "What if your product goes global?

Luckily for Mr Böck his stilts have gone global and are now protected by a patent in most countries. One of his patent images can be seen below and surprisingly it was originally patented as "A Device for helping a person to walk!"

The brand that Mr Böck created and now sells himself is called "Powerskip". These stilts are regarded as the best and are used mainly by professional performing artists such as "Swebounce" whom you can view in their promo video below!


Traditional circus arts train stilt walkers with "pegged" stilts, these stilts, as with most strap to ones shin and foot plate leaving the walker to balance on a rubber covered "pegged" feet. This type of stilt is very good for walking upon uneven ground and forces the individual to center their balance more directly without the aid of a added "foot" to the base of the stilt.

Voltige stilts are a modified version of a pegged stilt typical of French circus specialist with a stylish and practical design. The stilts support the backs of your calves and allow you to stand on top of the stilts rather than to one side. The telescopic tubular design enables quick and easy adjustment between a variety of height adjustments.

The above image is that of a standard pair of "drywall" stilts, they are used in construction/framing to help apply sheet rock for creating walls, these stilts are most favored in the construction field of work because they allow the user to actually stand motionless for good moments of time. Some types of these stilts have a articulated toe and heel to aid in the maneuverability of the stilt walker, these are very adjustable....some will generally extend up to "48. Personally I tend to stay away from these stilts for various reasons like, weight, bulk, sound (they tend to squeak if not well oiled) and can create a false confidence in actual control of balance.

Currently, the latest design in stilt technology are "Velocity" or "Power Jumpers" , these reflect back to a pegged foot type design, and the wearer is secured into these via a shin guard and foot plate housing. A very aerobic stilt that has a high tech spring which allows the user to make up to 7ft strides 9ft leaps, and move upwards to 20+ miles per hour on them, there are many different companies that fabricate these types of stilts....but I suggest one takes a look at Stiltwerks-Inc. out of Las Vegas, Neveda. The owner Jeff Jay has patented many a design for a variety of stilts and I believe viewing his website is worth it for any stilt walking enthusiasts.

Below is a teaser of some video footage of some of these stilts in action!

Friday, September 5, 2008

A Late Night Stroll

So last month as I headed home from work I decided to send out a text message to some fellow stilt walkers and wait to see what happens. The message was as follows~

Let's take a walk down Broadway, no rhyme or reason, dress to impress....who's up for it?

Well Asraiya responded, I believe the last time I stilt walked with her was for a Petting Zoo Players gig in Tacoma for New Years Eve, the client wanted three stilt walkers and As jumped at the offer but was lacking in the stilt department. Luckily for her and the PZP, a Movement Instructor of mine by the name of George Lewis contacted me in regards to some stilts I fabricated for a production of Shakespeare' "The Tempest". He stated that he was moving and wanted to know if I would hold onto them for him, so this is how Asriaya obtained a pair of stilts to join me with this summer stroll.

We walked about 25 city blocks that night, in a couple hours, and we strolled down hills and back up them too...along the way my housemate Guage joined us, his pockets were packed with Magic and he was raring to go. The photo above was a break moment....going down hill can be physically trying as compared to walking uphill on may not think so, but it's the truth.