This weekend I had a hand balancing gig at the Las Vegas Science Festival. Nothing crazy spectacular, I just did a few sets where I performed a short demo and followed up with an explanation of the science behind hand balancing.
Now I don't get to perform hand balancing very often(I practice mostly for other reasons) and during these performances I was made aware of several reminders in the difficulty of the art of hand balancing. Hopefully this will shed some light on the practice for the aspiring performers.
1. It is really easy to fall. Literally a split second loss of focus is enough to make you fall out of a handstand. This is all fine and can be a bit frustrating during a practice, but in a performance you must keep razor sharp focus. Anyone who has taken my workshops knows how much stress I place on intentionally coming out of a handstand and developing the reaction to not fall.
2. Being able to perform without a "proper" warmup. Normally I take quite a lengthy warmup if it is my first time moving that day. Just as well, I try to maintain a certain pace in my training so that I do not cool down. Remember that performance is unpredictable and you may not have a lot of time, means, or equipment to be in the best possible state prior to performing. You have to have all the more confidence in your own abilities.
3. Performance anxiety. Performing in front of people always brings some nerves with it. This can be a useful thing, as the extra adrenaline will make you stronger. Unfortunately it also makes you shaky which is not a good thing for balancing. Controlling this is not easy.
4. Imperfect conditions. It is a good idea to get used to practicing on different surfaces, apparatus, etc. Chances are the conditions you have when performing will not be ideal; better to be prepared for anything.
5. Consistency. Be able to nail your tricks 100% of the time.
6. Lastly, learn how to make it look easy. I think this is one of the most difficult concepts for people to understand. It's all in the body language, which can be hard to convey when upside down. It's that confidence we are looking for. Of course, this is all on top of the regular standards we look for in performance.
The point here is not to scare anyone off, quite the opposite. Work hard on your skills and refine them to no end.
I just want people to be made aware of the difficulty of performing hand balance. It is very easy to watch a routine and critique it(I am often guilty of this myself) but it is quite another thing to perform it.
Hand balance is one of the most difficult arts to perform, make sure to give respect where it is due.