Sunday, June 4, 2017

Issac Hou — "Lord of the Ring"

Chase Bank recently returned to the air with a "flight" of commercials featuring Taiwanese Street Performer, Mr. Isaac Hou ("who"), gliding effortlessly across the landscape in his Cyr Wheel.

The world of advertising, like every other industry, has its unique and imaginative jargon, which "leaks" into mainstream communication, quickly becoming downright pedestrian and annoying! For example:

• "At the end of the day." This insidious weed of language takes six words to say what ultimately, or perhaps better still, nothing at all, could convey better.
• "The new normal." A catchall for the dismal post-Great Recessionary world. Let's face it, this feels normal to almost no one and good to even fewer people. In marketing, it's particularly meaningless. 
• "Flight," an advertising agency timing strategy where ads or commercials are run during a period (called a "flight") followed by a period of no advertising (called a "hiatus.")

Certain companies follow the "intermittent plan," including American Family Life Assurance Company (Aflac,) Chase, Volvo, Capt. Obvious. This practice differs from the "recency theory" which argues that any gap in promoting a product will hurt its sales; so advertising should be continuous.

And you know who they are! "Flo," "the green lizard," "statute of Liberty," and the terribly back-lit "mesothelioma."

The Cyr Wheel has been a circus apparatus with a variety of names, over its long history, dating back to 1869. The wheel was "reintroduced" by Daniel Cyr, co-founder of a Canadian circus troupe, in 1996. The construction of the wheel has undergone design changes, and is a favorite of "street" performers, including Isaac Hou.

Isaac Hou grew up in New Jersey with a software engineer father and database manager mother. Hou and his brother are named after Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein. He took time off back packing the world by himself after high school.

He came across hoop performing by accident and honed his skills on city streets across Europe and Asia. An appearance on "China's Got Talent" earned him worldwide fame. In 2003, Hou saw a video recording of Daniel Cyr, performing at a festival in Toronto.

Isaac Googled "man big wheel big hula hoop," but never found anything. A few years later, he ran into a friend who knew the name of Daniel Cyr, the name of the prop, and the dimensions of prop to body size.

Isaac says "It's not easy to learn, but neither is it terribly difficult. It's hard to find a good place to train. The floor can be a problem. Often it's too slippery, too slanted, too bumpy or a combination of all these."

You can read the full interview with "The Lord of the Ring,"on the Chase Bank website.

The rig Isaac manipulates is made of steel and PVC, weighting 15 kg (33 lbs.)

On weekends, shoppers in Taiwan's Xinyi District's Shin Kong Mitsukoshi complex are treated to an awe-inspiring sight: a man spinning while balanced in a giant hoop. Here is one of his street performances, beginning with the Globe manipulation, ending with his "donation bag."

Here is Isaac performing recently (April 16th) at the 2017 Formosa Salsa Festival. Warning! Do NOT attempt to recreate this with your children's hula-hoop!

There are many fine performers, most in Europe and Asia, a few can be found in Canada and the US.

• Adding LED's to a Wheel results in a dazzling light show.

• Here's  an interesting performance by Shena Tschofen. She graduated from the National Circus School in Montreal in 2016 with a specialization in Cyr Wheel.

• Finally, from Poland, a husband and wife team, Anna and Lukasz Misztela, performing on the Cyr. Back in 2012, Anna Misztela had graduated from university with a degree in culture studies and was a fitness instructor in Poland.

The two met when Anna stopped Lukasz on the street one morning to ask for directions; 47 days later, they got engaged. Anna asked him to teach her some tricks, just for fun, but it turned into something much more. As well as finding a husband, she fell for his job. And the result speaks for itself.