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How a 79-year-old Film Director Learned to “Fly” on a Trapeze


It’s Never Too Late is a series about individuals who determine to pursue their dreams on their very own terms.

There are individuals who dream of directing a play or a movie. The director Tom Moore has done each. But he has all the time dreamed of “flying.”

“It was a childhood fantasy,” said Mr. Moore, 79, a movie, TV and theater director whose credits include the unique Broadway production of “Grease” and the Pulitzer Prize-winning play “’Night, Mother.”

“I liked the circus, but loved the last word act, which was the trapeze,” he said. “I’d wait for that.”

But Mr. Moore never thought he had the athletic ability to swing, stretch out, then fly from an extended horizontal bar, often 30 feet within the air. He wasn’t good at baseball, and, at 5 feet 7 inches and 150 kilos, he was too small for football at West Lafayette High School, in Indiana. “I just assumed I used to be not good at sports,” he said.

So as a substitute of running off to affix the Barnum & Bailey Circus, Mr. Moore, who grew up in Meridian, Miss., before moving to Indiana, went to the Yale School of Drama. He did fairly well, with “Grease” on Broadway back in 1972, which ran for greater than 3,300 performances; the show “Over Here!” with the newcomers John Travolta, Marilu Henner and Treat Williams; and the play “’Night, Mother,” which he also directed for the 1986 film starring Sissy Spacek and Anne Bancroft.

His TV credits include episodes of the Eighties drama “Thirtysomething,” “ER,” “Felicity” and “Ally McBeal.” Along the best way he was nominated for 2 Tonys and three Emmys. (More recently, he coedited the book “Grease, Tell Me More, Tell Me More,” for the Broadway show’s fiftieth anniversary this yr.)

Across the age of fifty, after the demise of a relationship, he was on the lookout for latest adventures. (He’s single now and cheekily describes his longtime partners as “a series of valued novellas fairly than the one great American novel.”) In 1996, while on vacation on the now-defunct resort Club Med in Playa Blanca, Mexico, he was drawn to a trapeze rig on the beach, and signed up.

Trapeze was an ideal mix of theatricality and athleticism, and he loved it. He even took part in a show at the tip of the week.

This spoke to his nascent acting ambitions. “I used to be never an excellent actor,” he admitted. “Acting is all about revealing and opening oneself up, and I couldn’t do it.” But he was a performer.

He “flew” just a few more times at one other Club Med in Huatulco, Mexico, over the following yr, and decided he wanted to include his holiday pastime into real life. By then he was living within the Hollywood Hills, still directing but feeling somewhat restless, and he asked around for names of trapeze teachers. One kept popping up: Richie Gaona, who got here from a famous trapeze family, the Flying Gaonas. Mr. Moore wasn’t sure Mr. Gaona would work with an amateur, but Mr. Gaona agreed. And so, he began learning trapeze in earnest on a rig in Mr. Gaona’s backyard within the San Fernando Valley, a few 40-minute drive from Mr. Moore’s home.

“I learned every little thing from Richie,” he said. “He was amazing. After which I used to be into it big time and would go three to 4 times per week.”

He got so immersed within the art of trapeze that he ended up making a documentary in regards to the Gaona family called “The Flight Unbelievable.”

“I believe I did things a bit backward because I used to be so passionately involved in my work and constructing a profession, I didn’t explore the athletic side of me until late,” said Mr. Moore, who considers himself an intermediate amateur. “Sometimes people say, ‘Oh, you’re a trapeze artist.’ I’m nothing of the sort. It’s a sport for me and fun, but I do know the skill and talent required to practice the art of trapeze.” (The next interview has been condensed and edited.)

What’s your favorite thing in regards to the sport?

You may’t take into consideration anything on the trapeze. Should you take into consideration anything, you’ll fail. That’s an excellent escape in itself.

What’s the toughest thing in regards to the trapeze?

Swinging on the bar is the preparation for all tricks that one does on the trapeze. The stronger it’s, the upper it’s and the more precise it’s, the higher the trick. It takes an extended time to learn to swing. Timing is every little thing. People think you would like strength to do it. Men particularly attempt to muscle up, but that’s probably not it. It’s all about timing and style. Trapeze at its best is more of a dance within the air.

Have you ever ever gotten hurt?

I once had an accident. People think you’ve got a net so that you’re fantastic, but the online might be essentially the most dangerous part. You’ve gotten to land in your back. Should you are available in your legs and feet or knees, you’ll bounce wildly out of the online. You may get severely hurt. The protection lines were holding me back from extra height, so I took them off for a trick, but I used to be so excited that as I used to be coming into the online, I used to be landing on my stomach. I used to be in the midst of flipping over to my back and I didn’t make all of it the best way. I bounced extraordinarily high into the air and I got here down on the ridge rope, the sides of the online, face first. It sliced through my entire nose all of the technique to the cartilage underneath.

A friend handed me a towel and said, “Put this over your face.” I believed she was attempting to stop the bleeding, but everyone was so traumatized by my face. I had done some real damage. An incredible surgeon was capable of do the work, a reconstruction of the nose. Mind you, I had done this without telling anyone I used to be going to do it, or I’d never have been allowed. So, I deserved what I got.

How often do you trapeze today?

Perhaps once a month. Twenty-five years ago I used to be willing to sacrifice anything — even time in my profession — to get to trapeze, but one matures, even in trapeze. I am going after I feel prefer it fairly than on a daily schedule. I’d prefer to be pretty much as good as I used to be at 60 after I was doing it on a regular basis and after I had a giant trapeze birthday celebration for 250. But I’m not, and that’s OK. But I don’t have any intention of giving it up because I still enjoy doing it.

Do the physical demands of trapeze take a toll?

Any time I’m away from it and return, I hurt. As you become old, it’s the joints. They’re in additional pain. It’s not as easy because it was, but I don’t need to ever stop because I do know that after I stop I won’t return. Should you keep doing it, then your body gets used to it.

I all the time practice my hardest trick first, since it requires every little thing I actually have to present. I’m telling my body, “That is what you’ve got to do.” It’s like going into the water, whether you edge out inch by inch or plunge right in. It’s higher for me to plunge in.

What has trapeze given you on an emotional level?

My athletic pursuits have given me an excellent sense of self. Many individuals my age have way back retired to commentary. They’re not a participant. I don’t feel that way in any respect. Attitude, spirit for all times, capability for curiosity and joy are an important things one can have.

I just keep doing what I can do, and fortunately that appears to be quite a bit.

I feel my whole life has been reinvention when needed, which I believe is a unbelievable technique to keep staying young. There’s all the time something latest if one stays open to it.

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