Monday, 26 January 2015

Writing About Circus

In place of a post about my third week of aerial lessons*, I decided it might be time to unleash my attempt at a review of a circus/dance/physical theatre performance, right here, straight into your eyeballs, pow! BUT...  then I changed my mind.

On Saturday night I went to see the premiere of 'Stateless' by a small Hampshire-based company called Joli Vyann, at the excellent Jackson's Lane  - a venue which specialises in contemporary circus and one which I hope to visit many more times in the future, despite the really steep steps up to it from the tube station (it's likely I only resented these because we were late and running up them like mad things, don't let it put you off!).

Stateless looked something like this:

Jackson's Lane describe it on their website as exploring the subject of refugees, immigration and journeys, with powerful stories of upheaval and crossing borders, intense physicality, and moments of sadness, courage and friendship.
There were. And what's more it was stunning. I was literally on the edge of my seat the whole way through and close to tears at one point, so emotionally charged was the performance. I emerged more convinced than ever that I have basically wasted my life up to this point, and should be spending every minute possible doing circus skills, yoga, dance - anything to be able to experience just a tiny fraction of the soaring freedom and creative/physical fulfillment that those performers must feel on a daily basis. Which is to say, I was moved and inspired in equal measure.

But review it? I don't think I can. I'm not sure the videos even do it justice, let alone some words of mine on a computer screen.  All I have in my head is the old quote 'Writing about music is like dancing about architecture' (in this case music = circus...just humour me).  No matter how many superlatives and similes and artful descriptions I could try to come up with, I don't believe I can recreate the experience of watching a show like that for a reader. It would be like trying to translate a heart-rending piece of orchestral music into braille, or paint a picture of a smell that reminds you of walking home from school on a rainy day in 1993.

No, I will leave such alchemy to the accomplished circus review bloggers already out there conjuring wonders with their words (great examples can be found here and here) and instead just bluntly encourage anyone who stumbles across this to:

Go and see some for yourself!

Watching circus is like seeing a live music performance.  Yes, you can watch a video at home for free, or listen to a recording on your ipod sitting on the bus, the notes as perfectly preserved as a butterfly under glass, but nothing compares to the real thing.

Nothing compares to seeing real human beings, in the flesh, accomplishing crazy-beautiful things with incredible talent and pushing intense emotions out into the same air that you are breathing.  You can't help but absorb a little bit of it, can't prevent the very cells of your body recalibrating in response to the vibrations from the stage. With all our amazing technology, and ability to summon almost any viewing experience at the touch of a button, it's easy to forget about the sheer electric feeling of seeing someone accomplish wonders in front of you.

But I think it's worth paying a bit more money, making a bit of a journey, to be able to remind yourself that there IS real magic in the world, and sometimes you can almost reach out and touch it.

* I didn't make it to class, sob! But I predict the post would only have been along the lines of : 'we did Spider and Amazon' anyway, so the world is probably not that much emptier without it... 

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