As the sun sets on this past era of Kaiceitos Circus here in Cabarete, Dominican Republic, I would like to take a few moments to say thank you for everything this very special circus school has done for me over the last few years.
It was December 2013 when I first boarded a plane to Puerto Plata, with a bag stuffed full of leggings, zinc oxide tape and palm grips, eager and ready for my first tropical flying-trapeze-vacation. Little did I know on that first morning, while I waited at the white picket fence for the instructors to arrive, that this place would capture my heart and soul, become my home, introduce me to some of the most inspiring people I have ever met and set me off on a journey of incredible adventures and new careers.
I know I am not alone when I say that stumbling across Kaiceitos changed my life. There are so many of us, fierce women (and men..) scattered across the globe who smile and sigh in gratitude if Kaiceitos comes up in conversation. Because it is not a school like any other. Here you are never a customer, you are immediately part of the family. A very powerful family of worldwide flyers. A Kaiceitos flyer is a friend for life, even if we have never met. We are united by our infinite respect for one wonderful man and incredible instructor – Paul Roberts.
It is difficult to try and describe what makes Paul such a brilliant coach. Maybe it’s the way he kicks my ass into gear to get up there and fly, while still taking the piss out of me. Maybe it’s the way he’s always singing, loudly and terribly. Or the ludicrous nicknames he conjures up for people. Or those teeny-tiny zebra print shorts he likes to catch in. Or maybe, really, it’s the way he always gives coaching advice using metaphors of exploding nipples, squeezing pennies in your ass crack, and screams of PINCH THE MUFFIN! It works a charm. Every time I fly with Paul I see my flying improve and my understanding deepen. He always offers a new perspective.
He is the perfect dichotomy – an absolute cynic, yet a man who empowers every single person who walks in the gate to believe that they are capable of anything. Inspiring confidence. Wanna fly out of lines? Sure! Wanna catch a double? No problem! Wanna be a female catcher? Awesome! Wanna pull lines? You got it, girl! Of course, not pushing people into things before they are ready, not risking anyone’s safety, but giving people permission to dream. And then working on those dreams with you until they are within your reach.
So much of the flying trapeze culture around the world revolves around restrictions. A culture of no. Restrictions for flying out of lines, restrictions for catching, teaching, performing. Restrictions about wearing socks. I think that it’s one of the reasons people return again and again to Kaiceitos. It’s the culture of yes. It’s the place where you can do whatever you dream of, as long as you’re willing to put in the hard work.
For me it certainly was that. I will remember the day when I first threw that layout out of lines into Paul’s hands and back to the platform for the rest of my life. A life goal accomplished. I had breathed in that dream when I first met Paul. But it runs deeper than that for me; Kaiceitos was the first place where I truly allowed myself to flirt with the idea of being a trapeze instructor. It was the first time I believed that I was capable. The first rig I caught someone from the catch bar, after weeks and weeks of catch lock drills. I look back at how far I have come now, and I marvel at this journey that began here.
So, yes, this may be the end of this chapter, but I know in my bones that this is not the end of the story. Thank you, Paul. Thank you for always believing in me. Thank you for teaching me everything you know. Thank you for sending me into fits of giggles with your outrageous humour, incessantly. And most of all, thank you for being such a good friend. I look forward to the day that we fly again, wherever and whenever that will be…
Do you have any stories from your time at Kaiceitos or training with Paul? Or similar experiences at other trapeze schools? Share them in the comments!
Practical Information: Kaiceitos is in the process of changing ownerships as Paul takes some time out from the DR to explore new avenues. Watch this space for updates as and when they arrive.