High stress? Get on the highwire folks

What you really need are some aerial acrobatics, kid.

Adri Mehra

The epiphany of the week is as follows.

Here, amid my personal throes of a difficult breakup and an even tougher academic semester, I have realized that everybody needs some circus in their life.

And yes, by circus, I mean the Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey, red-nosed variety, packed into clown cars and atop rope ladders. But I’m not talking about TiVo-ing the Cirque de Soleil marathon on Bravo every other month. What I’m saying is to enlist the guidance of a Sean or Meg Emery – founders of Xelias Aerial Arts Studio in northeast Minneapolis – literally to throw you into a journey of self-discovery and liberation of the soul through trapezes and table slides.

The Emerys have a vision. They see circus training as more than a list of stupid human tricks for the “Jackass” generation. They’d rather see their work as a unique utilization of “ordinary” people’s talents and confidences through a gentle but persistent nurturing of a physical skill set, through discipline and conditioning.

Fundamentally, it comes down to this humble truth: For the price of a fancy but highly sedative Xbox, you could be tumbling, juggling and literally flying through several a fortnight ($170 for 10 weeks, to be exact).

For those of you expecting a warm-water approach, fear not – everyone starts with basic exercises. However, if you have the hot blood of comic book adrenaline chugging through your veins, there are plenty of ways to skin your knees and hang upside down.

Talk to Meg and she’ll show you there’s an aerial apparatus for each one of us. From the traditional trapeze to the ropelike Spanish web and the beautiful lyra and tissue fabric ribbons, you’ll find several ways to locomotively reunite with your tree-swinging ancestors.

No less thrilling are the stunts you’ll learn from the street-seasoned shoes (and hands) of Meg’s husband, Sean – a highly sought-after clown and stage trickster in his own right. Sean is a world-class juggler and prop comic – and a gentle, hilarious and patient soul to boot. When you’re not laughing at the guy, you’ll be busy trying to infuse some of his attitude into your attempts at athleticism.

What makes these two kindred spirits so fun to learn from comes from a place deeper than their gymnastic prowess or talents for tomfoolery. It’s their refreshing real-world kindness and lack of airs that bring the young and old out of their easy chairs and into their studio.

Somehow, despite illustrious and globe-circling careers in their respective fields, Meg and Sean manage to keep one foot in the Big Top and the other planted squarely on the ground.

Meg’s ethos is attractively simple. “I have always enjoyed holding my own self up,” she told our class back in January. “And having the power to hold yourself up is always important.” A former ballet dancer who cut her teeth scaling oaks in her native St. Paul, Meg linked up with Sean, an Irish-born and Charlotte-raised circus carney, on a national circus tour 25 years ago.Sean’s tagline is equally delightful and pithy. “Funny guy who juggles stuff,” proclaims his Web site. ‘Nuff said.

Friends, treat yourself this spring. Stop calling the ex. Quit studying for the test. Come fly with the Emerys.

Adri Mehra welcomes comments at [email protected]