Transcript for “Exploration – with Panda Ilén”

Episode, Exploration – with Panda Ilén

Craig 0:05
Hello, I’m Craig Constantine. Welcome to the movers mindset podcast, where I talk with movement enthusiast to find out who they are, what they do, and why they do it. My guest today is Panda Ilén. Welcome panda. It’s a pleasure to get a chance to talk to you again. We met I think we’ve only ever met once we met once at girl live, I did it School for the International Gathering. And that was super fun to meet you there. But welcome. Thanks for joining me.

Panda 0:32
Thank you so much. It’s an honor to be a guest. Oh,

Craig 0:35
now the bar has been raised. If it’s an honor, I appreciate you saying that I like I really enjoy sharing the like, to me, there’s like I’ve had this experience a few times, right. I’ve talked to a few people. But I really enjoy getting a chance to bring people into this experience so that everybody else can hear you. And I know that you have a theater background and I’m wondering are you really because I think you still are but how what are you doing currently if you are still doing currently what are you doing currently with theater and and how does how does theater like energize you and bring you to life?

Panda 1:15
I have one theater project coming up in in summer in Helsinki. I’ll be doing recorded. It’s a it’s an outdoors show where the people go the route in the urban area of of Helsinki. I’ll be doing Parkour in maybe two spots that the theater itself like I don’t limit it to theater, I see myself enjoying the performing arts as a whole.

Craig 1:47
What drew you to theater, and when you started really getting into Parkour you were pretty young, relatively young. What drew you to theater and then do you feel like something drew you to Arthur plasma free money however you think of it in your head? But there’s something that drew you to that from theater? Or do you feel like the two loves are still mixed together?

Panda 2:13
When I started Parkour as well. Well, my hobbies before that had been in sports, like basketball and football. And I had done Parkour for almost six years before I started in theater at all. My first theater project. I got into it, because they wanted performers with Parkour background. So I went with my Parkour background without any performing background.

Craig 2:41
I had it backwards. Yeah, um I’m guessing you’ve always had a performative like a performance streak. Like Were you always the the kid who was acting or showing off or?

Panda 2:57
Quite often? Yeah. I have a I have seen myself always as a as a creative person. And I like to make people laugh. I like to. Yeah. I like to be up there.

Craig 3:13
Yeah, going. What do you think is something that people get wrong about? You? Know, Like? That’s a hard question.

Panda 3:28
Yeah, that’s a question. I know. People never will ever tell me.

Craig 3:33
Hmm. Do you feel like you you would have us kind of say in joy to feel like you would enjoy your Parkour training even more? If you had more movement friends, like, like a lot of the video that I see of you? Is you moving by yourself? And maybe that’s just because you’re so awesome. I’ve had a chance to move like near you. And I’m just like, No, I can’t even like climb up the things that you just jumped? Do you feel like your your Parkour would be more fun if you had more movement, friends who played with you on daily basis? Or maybe that’s actually what’s happening, but I just don’t see that on your Instagram account.

Panda 4:15
As I live the last six months, the last half a year in in Norway. I live in a small island. And I only had, let’s say one person that I trained with. And he was quite busy all the time. So that was a healthy year when I mainly plane but going by myself. And that was one of the biggest reasons why I moved back to my hometown, where I have my Parkour community and my theater communities.

Craig 4:45
How long have you been back there? How long have you been back in Finland now?

Panda 4:50
I moved back one month ago. Yeah.

Craig 4:54
Thoughts on the transition like when you got there? How long did it take you? Do you feel like you’ve blossomed or like the excitement level went from 10 to 11? Or what’s it like now that you’ve been there a month?

Panda 5:08
But well, I think he was the right decision. I have been happier since I get to get to spend time with my partner, and all my friends from the Parkour and other various communities. There was nothing wrong with my life in Norway, the I really like my students, especially students, especially, I would have liked to continue working with them. But I was even more drawn back then once.

Craig 5:38
Winter in Norway, and Finland is serious. Here where I live in eastern United States in Pennsylvania. It wasn’t even white most of the winter this year, the last decade, it’s been getting less and less snowy. So I mean, I still go outside barefoot in the middle of winter. I’m like, yeah, there’s some snow on the ground, but it’s not that cold. But I’m wondering how the seasons affect you. Because I think this the summer from understanding that I have, I think the summer is shorter, but maybe sweeter. And and the winters are colder. So the the range maybe is bigger, like the what happens to you mentally, is bigger because of the seasons. And I’m wondering if you ever thought about do you train seasonally? Do you look forward to a particular season?

Panda 6:27
Yeah, I look forward to the summer, like all Finnish people almost do. The seasonal depression is an actual thing. It’s a real thing that when the autumn and winter Come on, the sunlight goes away, like we get maybe one hour of sunlight a day, then people get more depressed. It’s a scientific fact. And I don’t like darkness or the cold. I would like to have a summer all year long. But since the winter is an actual thing, we need to make the most out of it. Especially last winter, like one year ago, it was amazing. We had tons of snow and so many great outdoor sessions with my friends. Jumping flicks to snow, jumping from rooftops to snow. It was amazing. We even made a white big, winter Parkour video. Lesson for that got pretty popular.

Craig 7:28
Where’d you put the video? Is it on YouTube? And on Instagram?

Panda 7:31
Yeah, exactly. It’s on YouTube. It’s under the name of Helsinki winter takeover.

Craig 7:38
I will go look after we are done. I think everybody else would enjoy it too, based on what I’ve seen of pandas movement. Is there a particular when I look at your Instagram, there’s a lot of bar movement. And I mean, some of it is swinging, but a lot of it is dynamic like three dimensional. And I’m wondering, when you when you’re outdoors, people tend to move in like straight lines. But it looks to me like when you get into a built space that’s got a lot of bars or scaf that your mind sort of thinks in like I’ve seen you change directions or move sideways and I feel like your mind is less constrained. Maybe when you’re in bars indoors and scaffolding. And I’m just wondering if you’ve ever thought about that, like maybe how outdoors, you tend to think more linear like the classic A to B and maybe when you’re indoors you think more about swoops or flows and just thinking out loud. Have you ever thought about that? Does that sound like an actual thing that Panda does?

Panda 8:52
Yeah, maybe I haven’t really thought about it that way. Many times indoor gyms are quite limited. You can go long stretches of run. So you have to wait around, make longer lines. Usually I just go wherever my mind likes to go. Like I’m not going to force it in any direction.

Craig 9:16
How the this left turn, how long have you been bouldering or climbing? I noticed your started the started seeing more indoor bouldering indoor rock climbing. How long have you been doing that?

Panda 9:31
I think I have like folders once or twice a year like since whenever but I actually started ordering more. Just before Corona. It was 2019 so Parkour Armageddon where where I got a spark. We had a bouldering workshop there. And after that I started doing it more more and more. When I was when I lived in Norway in small island. I didn’t have proper I left my vocabulary.

Craig 10:09
The bouldering gym, like didn’t have an indoor space.

Panda 10:12
Is that what yeah, I didn’t have indoor space or proper whether to throw it out, throw it outside. So I had a longer break during those months. But now that I’m back to Finland, I started started doing it more.

Craig 10:26
It’s addictive, isn’t it? There’s something about the private while the problem solving is the thing that that hooks everybody that I know that’s hooked. Have you had a chance to Boulder outdoors? Not sure. Like how warm it gets in the summer? And what spaces are around? Have you? Have you had a chance to Boulder outdoors? And what are your thoughts on on indoor bouldering versus outdoor bouldering?

Panda 10:49
Yeah, I haven’t gotten the chance to do it outside. Only a couple of times, I’ve done it on natural boulders outdoors. But in my hometown in Nebraska, we have this great wall. External building that’s maybe 100 or 50 years old, it’s a kind of a positive angle, a slab, I really much like to spend my time there in the spring. So many

Craig 11:21
things, what are there types of movement in bouldering that you think challenged you the most? Like I’ve seen you do, you know, a meter and a half dinos. And I’m like, well, that’s that’s not challenging. But, and also, I think you made a comment somewhere about, you know, cheating, like with reach cheating, if you’re naturally that, you know, if your diagonal reaches that long, that’s how you solve the problems. And I’m wondering if there are things about bouldering that you feel like you need to work on because they’re your weakness?

Panda 11:57
I mean, I think there should be, and there could be if I was more, more like, negative about moldering if I wanted to make progress, like a well rounded. But in Boulder, I’m mainly interested about the things that I can do. And what are most fun to me, which are the long diagonals and the positive slab walls.

Craig 12:26
Yeah, I like the the footwork part of bouldering I happen to be lucky that there’s like a half hour walk from my house, there’s a very, very old mountain range. It’s like only 100 meters high anymore. Like it’s very old. But there are boulders that are that were left from a glacier. So you’ll walk up in the woods, and they’ll be a perfect boulder just stuck in the middle of the woods. Like was where this come from some glacier, put it there millions 1000s of years ago, I’m not sure how long that was. So I love and the next folder would be different geology. So there’s nothing it’s like what’s going on here. This one’s like sandstone. This one’s like concrete. It’s weird. conglomerates and rock with sedimentary, but it’s on its end instead of like, it’s really weird. Yeah. And I love the footwork part of it. So when you mentioned slabs, there’s this one thing I called green garden wall because it’s all covered in moss. And they’re just these tiny little places where you can get a little foothold. And you can just like move. It’s like the size of a wall in a big room. It’s not even very large. But you can just move back and forth on that with just fingertips for balance. And that movement with feet. Which is something that I find it’s like a parallel to the kind of Parkour movement that I like to do. I like precise foot placement. And, um, you have very, I think, very precise foot placement in your Parkour movement. And I’m wondering, do you see parallels so when you’re moving in Parkour, we all tend to be it’s like more movement we’re like, but when you’re moving in climbing unless you’re doing a die, no, it’s more like the way a lizard moves where there’s like, you know, one limb and then the next limb, and then you know, but I’m wondering if you see parallels between the kinds of movements in Parkour and the kinds of movements in bouldering.

Panda 14:28
Yeah, yeah, I do. Even more. What I’ve been amazed by is that there are so many new ways of moving your body, new directions and just new ways. In Boulder that I’ve never done in support that have never come across that there can be such a movement problem where you have to use your body and your muscle in this way.

Craig 14:58
Have you noticed any change to Your Parkour movement. I mean, it’s probably just fizzy, physically better increased strength. But have you noticed people’s making comments about your Parkour about maybe that’s an interesting way to attack that. And then you realize, oh, that may actually have come from maybe bouldering has challenged you to think more like above and to the sides of your head or something like that.

Panda 15:22
Yeah, the problems are the lines that I come up with, are heavily influenced by bouldering. Especially when I’m practicing with my friends who also do bouldering. I like your challenges. But I do.

Craig 15:40
Think there’s a lot of fun when one activity that you’re passionate about, informs another one that you can kind of like, go back and forth, you can go play in one mental space, and then go play in another mental space. So I think that’s I think it’s neat that you have those two different things. Maybe theater makes a triangle out of the three of them, I think your theater practice informs your Parkour or your bouldering. Maybe not a good question, maybe just a weird question.

Panda 16:15
But sometimes when I play, I like to think that in that, can I somehow use these skills on stage? Or what kind of skills do they practice next, that would be helpful on stage?

Craig 16:31
That’s an interesting thought. Have you thought about us. So in my mind, I saw a short video that you did, which was a dissent in a parking garage. And I don’t know if you had six friends to shoot it, or if you did it six times and move the camera. But it’s, a lot of times when one sees a dissent, you get a view of the of the athlete moving through all or most of the dissent. And this one was very different. It was like, one little move, and then your as you disappeared, the camera, there was a cot, and then it’s like, oh, here, you come in this way. And then so you got almost like the view from random people in their car, you know, it’s like somebody turns around in their cars, pants, like, what do you know? And then the next person on the next level? I’m wondering, if you think about when you’re, when you’re imagining lines and movements in Parkour? Do you think about what it’s gonna look like from the outside? Or I find I’m always trapped? In my first person, I cannot even think to try to imagine what would the movement look like, from some other point of view? I’m like, stuck in first person point of view? Do you? Are you able to imagine your movement from another point of view while you’re doing it, and while you’re planning it,

Panda 17:49
I am able to, but I’m more interested in facing the facing the lie facing the problem as it is. And after that, I’ll get more

Craig 18:02
perspective, maybe

Panda 18:03
more perspective, and fun to think of how it looks like. And usually when I, when I make a challenge or a line, and I want to film it, I don’t I notice that it’s very hard to film, either by myself or with a friend. But usually, it doesn’t matter. Because when I film stuff, it’s more about, like, memories myself. That how did how I felt during those times. And one was about this challenge.

Craig 18:37
That’s a good point about trying to maybe capture the emotion and the feeling. In addition to just the visual, I think that’s, that’s a good point. And that that may come partly from theater because imagining what you want to capture, I want to capture Joy, I want to capture focus that requires you to do that you have to you have to become that emotion for the camera. So that’s an interesting. I’m thinking bouldering Parkour in theater, and they can that’s that’s the panda triangle. That’s the thing. I well, as much as I hate to say that the time always flies by and we’ve gone past 90 minutes. So I will just say and of course the final question, three words to describe your practice.

Panda 19:33
I would say, happiness, honesty and exploration.

Craig 19:39
Terrific. Well, Panda, like I said at the beginning, thank you so much for making the time to sit still long enough to talk to me, and I hope you have a terrific rest of your day.

Panda 19:50
I hope so too. I’m going bouldering!

Craig 19:52
oh! …it’s too maybe I’ll go bouldering it’s freezing cold. Bye.

Panda 19:58
Bye. Thank you so much.