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Walk the line! Take Philippe Petit’s high-wire class

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The man who captured the world’s attention when he walked between the Twin Towers on nothing but an inch-thick steel cable is about to give a master class so you can do the same someday.

This August, Philippe Petit, whose 1974 stroll between the mammoth buildings still sends a shiver down the spine, will teach “Tightrope!”, a two-day workshop at the Streb Lab for Action Mechanics, or SLAM.

“It’s a real dream come true,” said Elizabeth Streb, who runs SLAM. “It just adds to our capacity of imagining anything else that can be accomplished in the world of movement.”

Petit will hand-pick the six people in each of the three classes based on the would-be tightrope walker’s degree of commitment to aerial artistry — though no previous experience is required.

The master isn’t interested in people looking for something to talk about around the watercooler.

“Petit doesn’t want people to do this to lose weight or go to a cocktail party and brag about it,” said Streb. “He wants real artists who are interested in expanding their skill set and learning from a master like Philippe.”

Petit was a self-trained wire-walker when he danced — yes, he danced — on his Twin Tower tightrope, an astounding achievement brought back to the collective conscious thanks to the 2008 documentary “Man on Wire.”

Looking to add a new element to her space, which already teaches classes in another circus act — the trapeze — Streb invited Petit to teach the courses and impart his hard-earned knowledge.

“This is the only place to have this,” said Streb, who has applied to take a Tightrope! workshop herself, which costs $1,200 for the two days.

During the two-day intensive workshop, students will be introduced to the essence of balance, the art of tightrope walking and the subtleties of performing. They’ll work their way up to the type of wire rope Petit uses in his performances, practicing at different heights and lengths, learning how to instill theatrical presence and creativity into the performance and — most importantly — not to get thrown off (while Petit famously performs without a safety net, students will be secured by harnesses).

Streb plans on hosting the workshops with Petit three to four times a year to give people the opportunity to learn the art of the high-wire.

“I can’t wait to dwell on every word he says,” said Streb. “I do think it will be a life-changing experience for people to study with him.”

Philippe Petit at Streb Lab for Action Mechanics [51 N. First St. near Kent Avenue in Williamsburg, (718) 384-6491], Aug. 9-10, 11-12, and 14-15. Applications due by June 30 and must be mailed in. Cost is $1,200 each two-day workshop. For info, including to download an application, go to www.streb.org.

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Reader Feedback

Jim Moore from S. Slope says:
This photograph is a portrait of photographer Jim Moore taken by Philippe Petit. He was Petit right hand man during the preparation of the WTC highwire walk. The editor got the name wrong on this picture.
June 22, 2010, 2:50 pm
Gersh says:
Yes, that's right. We'll fix.
June 22, 2010, 6:06 pm

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