Friday, August 21, 2015

Lyra: modeling acrobatics

To astrologers, the word Lyraevokes a constellation in the sky; one often represented on star maps as a vulture or eagle carrying a lyre (which you may recall is a harp-like U-shaped instrument often used in ancient Greece).  To those with small children, they may know of a cartoon pony named Lyra Heartstrings aptly named because of a lyre on her flank. But those in the acrobatics and modeling world know a Lyra to be a metal hoop which is suspended to a ceiling by one or two attachment points.  The Aerial Hoopthat is visually reminiscent of a metal hula-hoop is also known as a “circeaux” or more commonly “lyra,” and is occasionally used as a prop in model shoots.

I had seen photos before, but my first opportunity to use the lyra was with wonderful Baltimore based photographer, Chip Bulgin a few years ago.  The session was less than an hour long of exhausting and acrobatic moves.  Unfamiliar with the motions of the lyra, as I moved into positions, the lyra circled endlessly, carrying me along in its orbit. The process involved finding a pose and holding as the lyra turned and revealed different angles for the camera.  I focused on dynamic poses, inspired by the acrobatic nature of the history of this prop. The timing of the shutter was everything, as at one moment I would be in an ideal position and at the next moment the angles would change for better or worse.  By the end of the session, I was in need of ginger ale to calm my queasy stomach and my muscles had tired from pulling myself up and down and around on the ring, and that was the sensation of success. 

Photographed by Chip Bulgin

Since that shoot, the occasion to use a lyra again has arisen only a few times.  My session this past year was part of a longer shoot with Jeff Bevis of Long Island with only about fifteen minutes to play before stopping for dinner (from past experience I deemed necessity a lyra then food order of operations).  This time, I was able to get up and down on the lyra with minimal spinning, and no nausea was experienced.  This could be due to the manner in which the lyra was connected, or my increased familiarity with the hoop. My background was much more restrictive to elongated poses, so I focused on poses which kept my limbs fairly compact and mood calm.

Photographed by Jeff Bevis
Edited by model with permission

I have spent the past few months working out at the gym, and my arms and upper back muscles are more developed. Anyone have a lyra and a studio they can safely mount a lyra in? I believe the time to get back on a lyra has come.