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Beginnings Pt11

Gossipy gossip NOT aside, I count myself quite fortunate to have come up through the Tripsichore ranks with the group that I did. The group that we replaced were, and still are, legends in my mind. As I mentioned before, they were Martin McDougal, Desire’ Konnangrad, Eileen Gautier, and Holly Coles. These titians were replaced with Toby Gillingham, Bertie Russell, Julia Horn, Valentina Candiani and myself.

From my understanding Martin was a professionally trained actor and once he completely left Tripsichore he then focused on his acting career. Although, he kept his toe in the yoga scene for awhile by teaching classes to the Gay community in Soho at triyoga, he’s done pretty well for himself as an actor. I mean he’s the only person I know personally who has an IMDb page.

Desire, Martin’s wife coincidentally, came from a background in gymnastics, and circus. She actually had at the time, and still has, her own performance company called An Act Above. Once she left Tripsichore she turned her focus to building that into a thriving international success.

Holly Coles, a professional dancer before Tripsichore then went on to become an international aerial yoga teacher after her stint with Edward.

Elieen appears to be the enigma. Or should I say ghost. Her pre-tripsichore history is unclear to me. She may have come from a career based in academia, or art history. To my understanding she had no serious previous physical training before yoga. Her first experience with yoga was with Edward Clark in a Tripsichore workshop after which she studied, trained, and performed with him for seven years. After leaving Tripsichore she then turned her focus toward Ashtanga and as a result emerged as one of the prominent Ashtanga teachers in London in the early 2000s. She was renowned for her practice and extremely difficult classes. I’ve been told by a few that have taken her classes, that not only were they difficult to get into, but also, once physically in the class, if she felt that you weren’t up to scratch she will boot you out in front of everyone. To which I fully agree. Why should a persons ego waste the time of both the teacher and the other students. However, since 2019 Eileen has completely left the grid. She has been someone I have long admired and still do to this day. And if I’m honest, I secretly had a girl crush on her for years and I don’t even lean that way. My first solo choreography creation was a dedication to her, born from how inspired I was by her. It was based on her solo piece called “Bubbles”. And mine was called “Eye Lean”. When she saw me perform in it 2008 she hated it. In my early days of performing, I had always dreamt of sharing the stage with her. Alas I never got the opportunity, but I don’t count that as a loss. In fact I think it was for the best, so I can still hold her in my mind as the be all and end all of who I aspire to be like both in my practice and presence. I tried reaching out to her in the fall of 2021 to see if she would like to go for coffee. But here it is a year later and she hasn’t even looked at the message on FB messenger yet. Thus reinforcing my love of her. Can anyone say Co-dependant! Loving my self-awareness.

As for those who I came up through the Tripsichore ranks with, here is what I know so far. Toby Gillingham and Bertie Russel met Edward Clark at Webber Douglas where Edward taught movement to drama students. Seeing their potential, I guess, Edward gave them free access to all the tripsichore company classes. Something that stings to this day, because I was paying for my classes while they were getting theirs for free. I guess it was Edwards way of giving them a student discount. Anywhoo. As their practices got better, they both got the invite to perform. Both Toby and Bertie left the company after “The Family” at the end of the 2010 fall US Tour with much unresolved tension between myself and them. I am still to this day slightly conflicted about what happened between us. On one side I feel regretful, guilty, embarrassed and at fault for their leaving, and on the other, righteous indignation, and justified. But then these conflicting feelings are based on my version of events. So who really knows, maybe the truth lies somewhere between. More of that episode to come.

After all that happened between us three, I still miss and admire them greatly. I’ve never met two people who can riff on a joke continually for five hours in the back of a 12 seater van while driving to Philadelphia and still make you chuckle. That’s talent. Bertie was my favourite performance partner. He was so much fun to work with, and to this day no one compares. He’s creative, hard working, silly, shockingly strange and innovative. Also Runway Model Pretty! Bertie went on to gain his qualifications in osteopathy and today he runs the Rebel Yoga Studio in KingsCross where he teaches and practices osteopathy.

Toby Gillingham moved to Los Angeles, California to pursue his acting career, after which he returned to the UK. These days he runs Mana+Wak in Elstree, UK. And what I gather from his Instagram posts, it looks like a little bit of everything he studied but didn’t quite master. And that kinda sums up my take on Toby. Ridiculously handsome, dangerous flirt, funny, torturer, insightful, thinker, impractical, and humble. I did have a crush on him for like 2 minutes when I first met him though, make of that what your will. My favourite Toby moment didn’t actually involve Toby but rather the legend of Toby. I was teaching a yoga dance workshop in Manchester in 2018 and back then I would give a brief history about myself and the Tripsichore technique before launching into the physical work. After the workshop two women approached me and and asked if I had performed with Tripsichore during the time when Toby was there, and if so did I “Really” know him. I said “Yes”. They then proceeded to Ohh and Aww at the fact that I knew him and performed with him. I then asked them how did they know him. To which they replied, “Oh, he had a workshop here last year.” So I commented, “Oh really, great! You probably found we taught similar things, yeah?” To my shock they said, “Oh no. His was a very spiritual workshop.” Thinking that they must have gotten the wrong person I began to physically describe Toby. To which they replied “Yes, that’s him. He said he used to perform with Tripsichore Yoga like you, but his workshop wasn’t anything like yours” I nodded and said, “Well I’m glad he added to your life and impressed you.” “Yeah, he was really amazing. Very spiritual.” I walked away thinking, “I have no idea who the fuck they are talking about. Spiritual!” And that’s the Toby I know.

Julia Horn, I’ve already spoken about. So I’m going to let my past evaluation stand.

“But, what happened to Julia after being denied access to the UK by immigration at Heathrow Airport after the Dallas show?” You may be asking.

Here’s my reply to that query. “Ok ok. Here’s a bit more gossipy gossip for you.”

Well, Edward couldn’t use her again due to what happened. So, after the Arts Depot performance, The Insects show was put to bed. However, that was not the end of Miss Horns presence in our lives. She showed up uninvited and unannounced in New Jersey at Laurie Greene’s home when we were on tour with The Family show. It was awkward and tense, as she had previously burned her bridges with Laurie after a falling out between them. It was an awkward and stilted atmosphere that her presence produced, so in the end Edward asked Toby and Bertie to take her out. After 20 minutes of Julia’s arrival the guys left with her to go for coffee. Soon after this incident, a rumour circulated among us that after she left Tripsichore she was hired by Momix, a dance company based in Washington, Connecticut, however, no-one could really verify this information. And then, soon after that rumour, another one circulated that she got fired from Momix, due to suspect circumstances. To which all of us comment, “Sounds like Julia.” She was always one to work a con when there was no need to, and write emotional checks that she had no resources on which to make good. On the flip side though, I do remember being very impressed at her getting into Momix, (if she ever did) , by whatever means she did. One afternoon on tour, I remember Bertie calling us over to his hotel room to see if we could catch a glimpse of Julia in a Hanes commercial that was on the TV. At the time Hanes was using Momix’s female dancers in an underpants commercial. But alas none of us could spot her so we turned off the TV and commented that she must have gotten fired before they made it. Shame. She fell off our radar after that, accept for the occasional social media post that one of us would see about her female movement empowering workshops she would hold in the east coast states of the US. It seems she’s kept her foot in the yoga game though, because these days you can find her peddling live stream classes like the rest of us on her website. God Bless.

And finally, Valentina Candiani. She came to Tripsichore from a background of dance, acrobatics, and circus. Out of our group she to stayed the longest. Which was crazy, because Edward was always in angst about using her. She was in the cast of two shows, The Insects and Witches, which finished in 2012. She then went on to explore Antigravity Yoga and Aerial Yoga. Which resulted in her opening up her own studio in West London called Coco Yoga in junction with Aerial Land from which she began producing and performing Burlesque type shows. We used to often joke and bitch about how triyoga wouldn’t hire us, but would hire the fat ass bullshit teachers whose practice and knowledge was for shit. (So glad triyoga is finally going under! The beginning of the end of the reign of the Yoga Studios. YAY!) I enjoyed her company as we used to spend a lot of time laughing at random situations that happened to us and in life generally. Today she runs yoga Teacher Trainings and sells women empowerment through nutrition and wellness programs. She has always had a fair amount of tricks in her bag, which I admire. And I believe she’s one of those people who will always manage to land on her feet. A highly valuable skill.

This wasn’t all heart strings and save the children. I still had my own ambition of becoming a

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