We know that a balloon is light and delicate. We know that we have to carefully avoid pops. But do we remember that twisting balloons is fun? It should be. So smile. Breathe. Make eye contact. Play. And always remember, this is supposed to be fun.
At Kidabra this year I went to the after-hours balloon jam to play. I didn’t have my own balloons to twist (I was sharing Buster’s bag) so I had a chance to watch everyone else for a change. Have you ever just stopped and watched people twist balloons? It’s really fun and illuminating.
These twisters were in ‘learning mode’ instead of the usual ‘entertaining mode’ that I usually see. So naturally, they were seated and working by themselves. You can’t miss the difference between the two modes. It starts with the look of absolute concentration in the faces of the twisters: Serious, focused, laser-eyes on the balloon. Lips simultaneously pursed and pulled in. Head and shoulders slightly rolled in to better work on the balloon. And blinders to the people on the left and the right. The newer twisters were slowly and painfully measuring each bubble and grimacing before each twist. The experienced twisters were intently squeezing, tying, but still grimacing. This is the side of balloon twisting that most people never see. This is the lab. The gym. The work. And it is fascinating to watch.
Watching the process reminded me that there are two sides to this coin: The private side and the public side. The ‘learning mode’ is the private side. It’s the trial and error and practice and popping and frustration and success. Otherwise know as Practice. The public side is when you make the balloon for your adoring public, and they marvel that it looks so easy. Of course it’s easy. You practiced.
Trouble creeps in when you mix the two — such as blocking out your audience when you’re improvising a new balloon and your entire body language closes up. So how do you stay in ‘entertaining mode’? By forcing yourself to acknowledge your audience and the fun they want to have with you. If you do it right, they will never know that you’re practicing!