Health

How the 79-year-old movie director learned to “fly” over traps


It’s never too late is a series about people who decide to follow their dreams on their own terms.


There are people who dream of directing a play or a movie. Director Tom Moore has done both. But he always dreamed of “flying”.

“It was a childhood fantasy,” said Mr. Moore, 79, a film, television and theater filmmaker. manager whose credits include the original Broadway play “Grease” and the Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Night, Mother.”

He said: “I love the circus, but loved the last performance, which was the climbing game. “I’ll wait for that.”

But Mr. Moore never thought he had the athletic ability to turn, stretch, and then fly from a long horizontal bar, often 30 feet in the air. He wasn’t good at baseball, and at 5 feet 7 inches and 150 pounds, he was too small to play football at West Lafayette High School, in Indiana. “I just assumed I wasn’t good at sports,” he said.

So instead of running away to join Barnum & Bailey Circus, Mr. Moore, who grew up in Meridian, Miss., before moving to Indiana, attended the Yale School of Drama. He did quite well, with “Grease” on Broadway in 1972, with more than 3,300 performances; program “Over Here!” with 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 television credits include episodes of the 1980s TV series “Thirtysomething,” “ER,” “Felicity,” and “Ally McBeal.” Along the way, he has been nominated for two Tonys and three Emmys. (He recently compiled the book “Grease, Tell Me More, Tell Me More,” for the 50th anniversary of the Broadway show this year.)

Around the age of 50, after his relationship broke down, he was looking for new adventures. (He’s currently single and cheekily describes his longtime partners as “a novel series worth more than a good American novel.”) In 1996, while on vacation at the resort The now-defunct Club Med in Playa Blanca, Mexico, he was towed to a rig on the beach, and signed up.

Trapeze is the perfect blend of theatrical and sporty, and he loves it. He “caught” – i.e. he got hold of the stick mid-air – on his first try and even took part in a gig over the weekend.

This speaks to his fledgling acting ambitions. “I was never a good actor,” he admitted. “Acting is about expressing and opening myself up, and I wasn’t able to do that.” But you to be a performing artist.

He flew a few more times at another Club Med in Huatulco, Mexico, over the next year and decided he wanted to incorporate his vacation pastime into real life. He was living in the Hollywood Hills at the time, still working as a director but feeling a little nervous, and he asked everywhere for the names of sledding instructors. A continuum appears: Richie Gaona, who comes from a family of famous train drivers, the Flying Gaonas. Mr. Moore wasn’t sure Mr. Gaona would work with an amateur, but Mr. Gaona agreed. And so he started taking climbing lessons seriously on a rig in Mr. Gaona’s backyard in the San Fernando Valley, about a 40-minute drive from Mr. Moore’s home.

“I learned everything from Richie,” he said. “He was amazing. And then I fell in love with it and would go three to four times a week.”

He was so immersed in the art of jigsaw that he made a documentary about the Gaona family called “Great flight. “

“I think I did things a bit out of date because I was so passionate about my work and building my career I didn’t explore my sporting side until late at night,” said Mr. identified himself as an intermediate amateur, said. “Sometimes people say, ‘Oh, you’re a troubadour.’ I’m not that kind of person. It’s a sport for me and a lot of fun, but I know the skill and talent it takes to practice the art of rope pulling. (The following interview has been condensed and edited.)

What is your favorite thing about this sport?

You can’t think of anything else on the trail. If you think about anything else, you will fail. It’s a great escape.

What’s the hardest thing about sledding?

Swinging on the bar is a preparation for all the tricks a person performs on a sled. The stronger, higher and more accurate it is, the better. It takes a long time to learn how to swing. Timing is everything. People think you need strength to do it. Men specifically try to gain muscle, but it really isn’t. It’s all about timing and grace. Trapeze at its best is like a dance in the air.

Have you ever been injured?

I’ve had an accident. People think you have a grid so you’re fine, but the net can be the most dangerous part. You must land on your back. If you go in with your legs and feet or knees, you’ll bounce off the net like crazy. You could be seriously hurt. The seat belts were holding me back from being too high, so I took them off to fool around, but I was so excited when I got into the net I was landing on my stomach. I was in the middle of a flip and I didn’t make it. I jumped unnaturally high and I fell on the mainspring, the edges of the net, forward. It went through my entire nose all the way to the cartilage underneath.

A friend gave me a towel and said, “Put this on your face.” I thought she was trying to stop the bleeding, but everyone was hurt by my face. I did some real damage. A wonderful surgeon was able to do the job of reconstructing the nose. Mind you, I did this without telling anyone I was going to do it, otherwise I would never have been allowed to. So I deserve what I get.

How often do you commute these days?

Maybe once a month. 25 years ago, I would have sacrificed anything – even my career time – to climb the trap, but a grown man, even in the trap. I go when I feel like it rather than on a regular schedule. I want to be as good as 60 when I do it all the time and when I throw a big birthday party for 250. But I’m not, and that’s okay. But I have no intention of giving it up because I still enjoy doing it.

Are the physical needs of a mountain bike a fee?

Anytime I leave it and come back, I hurt. As you get older, it’s the joints. They hurt more. It’s not as easy as it used to be, but I don’t want to stop because I know that once I stop I won’t go back. If you keep doing it, your body will get used to it.

I always practice my hardest trick first, because it requires all I have to give. I’m saying to my body, “This is what you have to do.” It’s like getting in the water, whether you’re inching out inch by inch or diving right in. I’d better jump in.

What has brought you on an emotional level?

My pursuit of sports has given me a great sense of self. Many people my age have long since retired to observe. They are no longer participants. I don’t feel that way at all. Attitude, love of life, curiosity, and joy are the most important things a person can have.

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

I feel like my whole life has been recreated as needed, which is a great way to stay young. There is always something new if one remains open to it.



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