EnglishClub
Home Learn English Teach English MyEnglishClub

Please note that these ESL Forums are NOT part of MyEnglishClub. To post at these ESL Forums please register ↑ first.


Balancing Acts

For use with Talking Point worksheets

Moderator: TalkingPoint

Balancing Acts

Postby TalkingPoint » Sun Aug 01, 2010 7:58 am

Balancing Acts

There are different types of balancing act. The most common is probably the ‘tightwire’ or ‘highwire’ where a person walks along a tautly stretched wire between two points. Funambulism, better known as tightrope walking, gained popularity as a circus act in which one or more persons would walk along a rope or a wire which was suspended between two points above the circus ring. Some tightrope walkers would hold a pole horizontally to help them keep their balance (or they would just use their arms outstretched) and sometimes the act would even be performed without the benefit of a safety net to catch them if they fell. Nowadays, if the wire is more than 7 metres off the ground then it is usually classed as a ‘highwire’ act. Another type of balancing act is the ‘slackwire’. Here the wire or rope is not stretched tightly but hangs loosely. The weight of the person walking along it provides the tension. The skills necessary to perform successfully on the ‘slackwire’ are different from those necessary to keep one’s balance on a tightrope because the rope or wire is looser. The most famous form of balancing act could well be the ‘skywalk’. Like the ‘highwire’ this is where a person walks along a stretched wire but rather than taking place in a circus or other indoor location, it takes place outdoors in unusual situations – for example, between two skyscrapers or across a canyon.

‘Highwire’ or ‘skywalking’ acts invariably attract a lot of attention from the public and feats such as crossing Niagara Falls have attracted highwire artists for generations. In 1859, on 30th June, the famous Blondin crossed the gorge below the Niagara Falls waterfall in America using a tightrope suspended 50 metres in the air. Born in 1824, Charles Blondin started life as Jean-Francois Gravelet. He adopted the name Charles Blondin later in life, perhaps as a ‘stage name’. He began training as an acrobat at the age of 5 and in 1855 went to the United States. Four years later he made his name at Niagara Falls, though this was only the first time he completed the feat. In later years he repeated it in a variety of ways; once he walked across blindfold, once he did it on stilts and once he even carried a man across on his back!

However, not all tightrope walkers were as successful as Blondin. In 1887 Stephen Peer fell from his tightrope and died at Niagara Falls, despite have completed the challenge without difficulty on several previous occasions.

Disasters such as this have done little over the years to dissuade daredevils from taking up the challenges posed by highwire walking. From natural geographical features such as waterfalls and gorges, to man-made objects such as skyscrapers and suspension bridges, tightrope walkers have attempted to walk across them all.

In 1974 the French high-wire walker, Philippe Petit, walked across a highwire suspended between the two towers of the World Trade Center in New York and records continue to be broken as highwire enthusiasts compete for the next record attempt.

Such is the appeal of balancing acts that you can even book tightrope walkers to perform at private parties or corporate functions and business events. A quick search on the Internet will reveal an astonishingly wide choice of act. You can choose from a variety of performances: the ‘ballet-style’ highwire act, the ‘comic’ tightrope act (with or without juggling), acts with balancing poles and acts without them, the list goes on and on. Tightrope walking may be a centuries-old performing art but it is obviously anything but old-fashioned!

See also: How can the balance of power be improved?

Quick Quiz: Read the clues below and write the solutions on a piece of paper. Then take the first letter of each answer and rearrange them to find the hidden word connected with this Talking Point.

1. The ‘tightwire’ or ‘highwire’ is where a person walks along a __________ stretched wire between two points.

2. Funambulism, better known as tightrope walking, gained popularity as a __________ act.

3. Sometimes the act would even be performed without the __________ of a safety net to catch them if they fell.

4. Another type of balancing act is the ‘slackwire’. Here the wire or rope is not stretched tightly but hangs __________.

5. The most famous form of balancing act could well be the ‘skywalk’ which takes place outdoors in unusual situations – for example, between two skyscrapers or __________ a canyon.

6. ‘Highwire’ or ‘skywalking’ acts __________ attract a lot of attention from the public.

7. Born in 1824, Charles Blondin started life as Jean-Francois Gravelet. He adopted the name Charles Blondin later in life, perhaps as a ‘stage__________’.

8. Blondin began training as an __________ at the age of 5 and in 1855 went to the United States.

9. From natural __________ features such as waterfalls and gorges, to man-made objects such as skyscrapers and suspension bridges, tightrope walkers have attempted to walk across them all.

10. Records continue to be broken as highwire enthusiasts compete for the __________ record attempt.

11. Such is the __________ of balancing acts that you can even book tightrope walkers to perform at private parties or corporate functions and business events.

12. A quick search on the Internet will reveal an astonishingly wide choice of act. You can __________ from a variety of performances.
User avatar
TalkingPoint
EC Teacher
EC Teacher
 
Posts: 251
Joined: Tue Aug 05, 2003 2:21 pm
Location: England
Status: English Teacher

Return to Talking Point Homework

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests