Urban acrobat Francesco Caban will demonstrate how to swing from trees and crawl up walls this weekend at Madcap Theaters in Tempe. The super fit Movement Arts instructor from ASU will give demonstrations in parkour before a screening of the movie District 13: Ultimatum on Saturday night, and it's bound to be a Spiderman-like spectacle.
In case you've never heard of it, parkour is a system of movement that teaches people how to do things like quickly scale walls, clear hurdles, and even jump from one rooftop to another.
Caban, 24, has a BFA in Dance Education from ASU, and has trained in gymnastics, martial arts, and cheerleading. He wore a devil costume for a couple years as ASU mascot Sparky, but now he teaches (and tortures) students at the university in his parkour class.
He makes them stretch to the point of exhaustion, and run a repeated gauntlet of tall wooden boxes, monkey bars, and balance beams. They leave class with bleeding knees, blistered hands, and big smiles -- because they know people are going to go "Whoa!" one day when they clear a five-foot high fence in a single bound.
Caban sums up parkour as, "The most effective way of getting from point A to point B."
If running on all fours, hurdling over walls, climbing sideways, and vaulting over stairwells and benches is what you call "effective," then Caban is Mr. Precision. "I practice as if it were a real life situation," he explains. "When you run, you have to run like the person behind you is trying to kill you. You have to move like the Titanic is sinking and there's only room for one more person on the lifeboat, and you want to get there first."
Caban's capable of doing the flashy, high-flying tricks that have popped up in parkour videos all over YouTube (see a video of Caban here). But parkour isn't just a performance to him. "I incorporate everything I know into a full-out holistic approach to training the body, mind, and spirit," he says. "It's a lot like a martial art."
Caban identifies with what martial arts legend Bruce Lee once said: "To me, ultimately, martial arts means honestly expressing yourself."
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"My goal is like what Bruce Lee said," Caban says. "To move honestly. If you're going to show off, show off doing something that really expresses you."
Francesco Caban will perform at Madcap Theaters in Tempe before District 13: Ultimatum on Saturday, April 24, at 7:30 p.m. Movie tickets cost $8.