I brought my stilts on this trip, and have been trying to find time everyday to go on a stilt walk. I’ve been really enjoying having this much time and space to practice my technique also; in the city it’s virtually impossible to find an open and unpaved spot free of people to play around in, so being able to wander down the road and stop and explore anywhere I want to, not to mention being able to dance around and try new tricks without anyone watching, is a real pleasure.
The last few days I’ve come to think of it as much as an experiential practice as a performative one; the landscape here is so flat that even two feet of height makes a noticeable difference in how far I can see. My awareness of the topography, the consistency and texture of the soil, and the variety and spacing of the plants are all increased by moving through the space on stilts. Also, it’s a completely different experience of movement in terms of the way I walk. I’ve noticed that a lot of people, including myself, tend to walk fairly quickly when they hike, making a beeline from one place to the next. In contrast, on stilts, it’s more of a side to side motion as you move; furthermore, since the movement on stilts for me is the end in itself, I find myself walking sideways, backwards, or in circles on the same patch of road -- the destination ceases to be important.
The person who taught me to stilt told me to imagine dancing rather than walking -- having a rhythm in mind helps you to keep balance and remember the right way to walk at first. The other morning it occurred to me, though, as I danced down the road to music to the most incongruous 80’s pop music possible for this setting, that dancing rather than walking would be sound advice for most situations in life.