By Laura Ohata
Northwest Asian Weekly
“Fear is a big part of flying trapeze,” says Jordan Tribble. “To stand up on the platform, with no safety lines, and tell yourself to jump off. Just swinging on the bar is a big deal.” For all of his talk of fear, at age 21, Christopher Jordan Yasukuni Tribble is a rising star on the flying trapeze. These days, he performs and teaches classes at Emerald City Trapeze Arts, a school in Seattle that offers classes in a variety of circus skills.
“Jordan should be very proud of how fast he got to where he is,” says Paul Schimmel, chief instructor of trapeze at Emerald City Trapeze Arts. “He has only been flying for a year now, and he has learned some serious, serious tricks. He will be showing those off for our next show on New Year’s. He is very talented, very driven, as both a teacher and performer.”
“He’s got a gift and an aptitude for learning,” says Alestair Winn, an Australian instructor who works with Tribble. “It usually takes quite a few years to reach to the level he is at. Jordan has managed to surround himself with a lot of great coaches. If he stays focused, he’ll likely fly for Cirque Du Soleil one day.”
Tribble credits his rapid success to prior training. He studied Tae Kwon Do for seven years, eventually earning a black belt. “Martial arts helped me a lot, to focus my energy on what I am doing. Learning how to breathe helped a lot.
Movement and flow…make what I do now more of a dance.” About five years ago, he began studying circus arts with his uncle, Sam Tribble, an expert in the Cyr wheel, a spinning circular metal bar. He also learned a form of tightrope called slackline, and some basic tumbling routines. About a year ago, Tribble began training at the Trapeze School New York on the Santa Monica Pier in California.
“My first trick was a knee hang. That is the intro trick,” says Tribble. “You’ve got to do that before you can do anything else.” He advanced rapidly from knee-hang to plange, and from plange to layout. “Right now, I am working on the double layout. That is kind of my itch right now, trying to make this one trick really good, because it leads on to all of the other big tricks that I eventually want to work on, and keep going.”
Emerald City Trapeze Arts invited Tribble to move to Seattle and work as a circus arts instructor in May of 2014.
“Emerald City Trapeze is the cathedral of all things trapeze,” says Tribble. The ropes, pulleys, and platform and net span the center of a renovated factory in SODO. Light filters in through windows 40 feet overhead. Tribble says, “It’s an amazing school, with amazing coaches and an amazing rig that I can come and fly on every day, and train my heart out.”
While his family supports his high-flying career, his mother hid behind her husband, too afraid to watch one of Tribble’s recent performances. “Of course, it’s dangerous. What could happen definitely shouldn’t be taken lightly,” he says. “I’ve had a few sketchy moments. I was doing a pirouette…bar to bar. When I went to grab the bar… I barely had my fingertips on the right-hand side of my bar.” When he came back up to the board, he had to straddle the ladder off to the side over a 25-foot drop.
The art of flying trapeze requires intense concentration and physical strength. “You really have to focus to filter out your daily life, as well as what is going on throughout the room,” says Tribble. “There might be 20 things wrong in what you are doing, but you can’t think about 20 things and do your trick the best way possible. So, you have to break that down and think of two things… and kind of let your body do the rest. And, that is a big deal—trying to push everything else aside and make that one thing happen. In the end, you’ve changed the one thing you wanted to change.”
When asked about his plans for the future, Tribble says, “Trapeze artists are very transient. We move from rig-to-rig and place-to-place to follow our dream…depending on what opportunity arises. I think eventually, yes, I would like to be in a professional circus, but it doesn’t matter to me, as long as I keep flying.”
If you want to give it a swing for yourself, Emerald City Trapeze Arts offers lessons seven days a week. “Flying trapeze is the best. Everyone should try it,” says Tribble. “It helps conquer fears. It’s about pushing yourself forward and making yourself realize that you can do things you never thought you could do.” (end)
For more, visit Emerald City Trapeze at http://emeraldcitytrapeze.com.
Laura Ohata can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.