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The Notion and History of Tightroping

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Mia Doi Todd said, walking the tightrope, now no consequences. Walking the tightrope, numb and defenseless. According to Dictionary. com, tightroping is defined as, “a rope or wire stretched taut for acrobats to perform on. Courtney Dean describes tightroping as an “extremely challenging sport taking extreme balance and concentration”. Instructor Sonja Harpstead says, “posture is the absolute most important thing”. She also tells us that while on the wire, the person must keep in mind that with every step the wire can begin to spin around. This can result in the walker losing their balance. Rotational inertia is a balancing technique used by all tightropers. When the wire begins to rotate, they increase their rotational inertia, positioning their body to fight against the wires rotational pull. Many wonder why most tightropers carry long poles. The reason is that it assists with increasing their rotational inertia and helps to lower their center of gravity. Sonja explains how tightroping is not just a dare-devils biggest dream, but it is science along with art.

The Little Wonder

According to “The Charles Blondin Biography” Jean-Francois Gravelet known on stage as Charles Blondin is known as the first person to tightrope across the Niagara Falls. He is classified as a “Funambulist”, which in short means tightrope walker.

Charles was born in St. Omer, France in 1824. At the age of five Charles walked his first tightrope, which was a Making History line hung between two chairs. He became a child star at the age of eight when he appeared on stage as “The little Wonder. ” Charles was greatly influenced by circus performers, especially the acrobats. His father was an experienced and very skillful gymnast. He constantly encouraged his son to pursue his ambition to become a skilled tightroper. That encouragement was short lived as his father passed away when he was only nine years old. Charles was now an orphan, but that could not stop his dream. He embarked on a career that would bring him great fortune and fame. Throughout Charles’s adut year he completed many stunts, however his ambition was bigger. He announced that he would walk across a wire strung over the famous Niagara Falls. The local newspaper published a small article about his plans, and before he knew it the news spread like a wildfire.

The Event that Marked History

June 30, 1859; Powerful water flowed all around him, but he persisted. Mist slapped him in the face, and the wind whipped across his body. Charles Blondin became the first man to tightrope over the Niagara Falls. A rope was strung one hundred and sixty feet above the surface of the falls. After what felt like only moments to many, Charles stepped off the wire on the other end of the falls. The excitement did not stop after one crossing, but he continued to walk the same wire up to seven times, each varying with difficulty. Charles walked the wire on stilts, in a sack, on a bicycle, and pushed a wheelbarrow across to the other side. When he reached the other end with the wheelbarrow in his hands, he asked the audience if they believed that he could push someone in it. Of course everyone screamed yes, but no one volunteered when he asked “who will get in the wheelbarrow?” According to Katie Nodjimbadem October 13, 2015, Charles said Making History 4that the hardest crossing was when he carried his manager on his back. . Once again, according to Katie Nodjimbadem October 13, 2015, carrying extra weight pushes your center of gravity extremely low, therefore making it harder to balance.

Tightroping Today

According to Doug Benz June 8, 2012, Charles was the first to cross Niagara Falls, followed by ten others; nine male and one female. The most recent Niagara tightroper is Nik Wallenda. He crossed the wire over Niagara on June 15, 2012. Nik supports what Sonja Harpstead said about tightroping being a science. “Everything I do is extremely calculated, ” he said during a phone interview with “Daily Breeze. ” A quote from Nick Wallenda says, “I’m facing Niagara Falls- the wind and the mist and the dark and the peregrine falcons- and I’m going to stay focused on the other side”.

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