Andrey Moraru On the Spiritual Art of Handbalancing
The following is an interview with Andre Moraru one of leading handbalancers in the world, and myself, conducted via email.
Q: Can you tell us a little about your history with handbalancing?
A: it’s hard to give precise answer in a short amount of time but I will give a short summary of how I got started. It begun as gravitating towards doing things that made me feel good. I didn’t have plans or ambitions to become a performer, I just liked the process of being physically active. It ranged from stick and sword fighting to diving and swimming, to hiking. Then it changed to attempting acrobatics on the grass, stretching in my backyard, trying to walk on my hands (which at first I considered to be a lot harder and more hardcore than actually standing still). I grew up in a small town with lots of natural environment around me. Me and my friends created a lot of cool stuff with simple tools we had at our disposal. So it all began as playing around really. Whatever you do out of joy and not out of having to do it, will most likely stick with you because you crate an environment where you are, now, the most immediate sector of your attention. You don’t try being someone else, you create your own world and become a master within it. Who knows where it will take you, all you know is that you have something interesting to do and it’s very exciting to try and dig deeper. We often forget what it feels like to do something for the first time ever. We assume that we know everything and there is nothing cool and new left to do but the truth is there is. Let joy lead your way.
Q: Did you have any special challenges you had to overcome when you started?
A: I wasn’t really strong physically compared to other dudes in the circus studio I went to and I wanted to be at least equal in strength but of course I wasn’t until later because when you have different body type and are different person altogether you can’t expect to be like someone else you’re not simply because we’re ALL different. The challenges were not special, they were many or maybe they were all special because they were new and unlike any other stuff I tried before. It went from playing around to having to cultivate and maintain discipline. Not easy! But possible…
Q: What attracted you to handbalancing?
A: The play of forms. The seemingly unreal realness of it. You look at someone good doing it and your mind refuses to believe in what your eyes are seeing. You get a nice brainstorming shake up. It’s hard to put it in words but you’ll know what I mean when you ask yourself what exactly attracted you to develop interest in this discipline. You know it has something to do with some kind of wishes buried deep down. Maybe you were secretly searching for some kind of power or special skill you wanted to possess that could make you feel different, feel like you’re part of something but couldn’t find it around you. I mean, it’s hard to say with certainty. It’s a lot of things combined and sometimes it’s best to not know the exact answer. Leave some room for imagination and just go with it.
Q: You mention that you seek for a sense of lightness in your handbalancing. Which I have to say, you’ve done a great job in achieving. Can you tell us when and why you started thinking about this? Have you gotten where you hoped to?
A: I have come close to what I hoped for. Often I get VERY close. I think the closest will be when I’ll be on one arm and lift it in the air too and stay aha You can do it underwater but not really outside of it. The gravity keeps us grounded. I tried a lot of my tricks underwater to understand the dynamics. I started thinking about lightness in handstand when I observed other handbalancers and compared what they had in common which was a sense of slight hesitation when they transfer to one arm. I knew that going for it directly would be very difficult but somehow it seemed like the best way to do it despite it’s seemingly obvious near impossibility because it takes great amount of concentration to be “ON” all the time when you on your hands. I’m confident that you can literally increase or decrease your weight when you wish to. For example when you try to lift a drunk person or unconscious person they weigh 3 times as much than when they’re sober and conscious if you try to lift them. Same goes for handbalancing. Your body can push you down with the weight of the whole world if your don’t activate right centers or it can be nearly as light as a feather if you just tune into the right….right…(no word for what I’m trying to say) Let your imagination finish the sentence!
Q: Your performances have, to my understanding an interesting combination of traditional handbalancing, combined with dance and almost yogaesque movements. How did you develop your style.
A: It took years to develop a style. Style is almost everything, or it is everything. Depends on the way you look at it of course. I do think it’s vey important. It’s just like when you meet new people. You can meet hundred individuals and out of hundred there will be 10 that you can look at and sense that they have interesting character and out of those ten one will have extremely interesting personality. They look like everyone else, they use the same sounds when they speak and yet they’re different. Original. THEMSELVES. That’s all it is to it. Many, many people struggle to find identity even much more so in Art world. Identity helps to make your way through life. So finding style is exactly that. You look at art-forms and realise that almost anything fits as long as it comes from a real place. Yoga, dance, balancing, acrobatics, feelings, music, strength, determination. “Keep it real” may sound like a stupid quote from rap music but if you take a good look at it and understand this simple phrase for what it really is you realise that many of us fail to do just that. That’s of course just my opinion, nobody has to believe it. I’m not trying to teach I’m just expressing myself in case anyone wanted to know my opinion.
Q: Lately you mention that you are moving away from what you’ve done in the past. What brought this on? Where do you see yourself going?
A: Ok, what people saw in my videos like “FreE MaN” is just one version of ME. There can be countless versions of anybody and that’s where I’m going. I’ve done this version for number of years now, I know what it feels like, I know what it is. Now I want to go where I haven’t gone to yet and see what happens. I’m just looking for more of myself, more into myself. I don’t know where this is going and I do not wish to know for sure. All I want is to feel joy while looking for it. To feel free and be open for improvisation and risk. I could have become comedian had I not chosen the seemingly a bit sad and pure muse. You feel things when you perform. On a good night you don’t wish to be anywhere else in the world other than where you at right at that moment. Your body!
Q: Your performance indicates there is something more to this than just mechanics, you are looking for something spiritual in your art – what is it? Was it always there? Has your career helped you find what you are looking for spiritually?
A: THERE’S A LIGHT THAT NEVER GOES OUT. I always felt that something was there. It took time until I acknowledged it. My career as a performer definitely helped in getting deeper understanding of that “engine” within me. Ok, you mentioned mechanics. If we disassemble a mechanical wrist watch, behind the two hands that point at numbers which indicate time we’ll see lots of parts that do their job on the inside. Those mechanical parts were made by people who had to do extensive research for generations, to perfect and improve every little detail in order to make all kinds of different watches. Now, all those people were driven either by love for what they do, curiosity or inner urge to create. All that stuff that you can’t touch came from…came out of thin air it seems. Space around us is filled with ideas that fly like birds you just need to reach out and grab it. Within each person is a world. Behind organs are “centres”. Behind flesh is a…(again there’s either no words to describe it or too many of them to get into it. Just look within yourself and you will find that you never really knew what you were until you started digging deeper. What you’ll find will never cease to amaze you in it’s infinite “simple complexity”.) Basically your feelings contain information about you and lots of other things. Learn to decipher it and you will learn much about yourself and everything around you.
Q:Finally a question from my good friend Mikael Kristiansen, which I think all of us are wondering, how are you so steady upside down?
A: Practice, practice, practice, idea, desire, joy, practice, practice, obstacles, anger, practice again 🙂 Joy, and more practice! And oh yeah, some more practice after that..