What are your taboos?

27222171260_b83cf7e9d0

This spring I literally threw myself into a wonderfully mad journey of self discovery with the world-renowned Gandini Juggling.

If you don’t know them yet, the Gandini’s are a company of ridiculously talented object manipulators, whose work has been reinventing and reinvigorating juggling over the past 20 years, whilst challenging people’s perceptions of contemporary circus all over the world.

26891171233_7e382a7b141

I joined them for a 5-day, French run of ‘Cløwns & Queens’, a beautifully brave and visceral show that comes with balls, plush penises, exchanges of bodily fluids and horizontal juggling.

‘Full of sex, but never sexy’, the show depicts a mad court full of queens and clowns, engaged in a ‘constantly shifting dance of desire’. With echoes of Stanley Kubrick, Pier Paolo Pasolini and Federico Fellini,’Cløwns & Queens’ explores the nature of lust and imbalanced power relationships in a brave cross over between circus, dance and performance art.

media_file_19

For me personally, this was an incredible opportunity to explore some of my own taboos, both as an individual and a performer. The risk of juggling on stage for the first time ever in my career, after only a few rehearsals with the company and the specific task of hula hooping without the shield of technical tricks were emotionally charged challenges that stripped me down to my most vulnerable… let alone the actual naked scene on the cold, white lit up tables.

The risk paid off. When life offers you the opportunity to manifest your feelings through work and by doing that, learn about yourself, that’s when the most exciting adventures are bound to happen.

Immense gratitude and big respect to Sean Gandini and Kati Ylä-Hokkala, Artistic Directors of Gandini Juggling, all the performers in the company and Le Maillon Theatre de Strasbourg , for adopting me onto this crazy journey.

 

A revamped version of my ‘Black Out Days’ LED hula hoop act, performed with latest technology smart LED hula hoops at Jackson’s Lane Theatre, London, 2015.

Filmed by Mark Morreau and Thomas Forsyth. Music by Phantogram.

Metamorphosis

August 13, 2015

When she transformed into a butterfly, the caterpillars spoke not of her beauty but of her weirdness.

They wanted her to change back into what she always had been…

But she had wings.


Photographs by Simon Yin. Big thanks to Chenghao Liu and Jacksons Lane Theatre, London.

The hoops in these images are LED smart hoops by SpinFX. I can program them to change colours and patterns to any chosen music, which allows for endless possibilities to create bespoke acts and fit with specific requirements and special events. You can see more photos here.

I have always had a great interest in animation and mixed media, so when Cirque Bijou offered me to collaborate on a bespoke piece that mixed my hoops with Howie Bailey‘s visual graphics, I dived right into it.

The piece was commissioned as an intro to the John Bishop Show on BBC1, which made the whole project even more exciting.. and slightly nerve-racking.

We knew it was going to be hardcore and risky – we only had a few days to research and develop ideas and then put it all together into a live show for prime television.

Yet, despite the time and space constraints, we just went for it wholeheartedly, feeding off each other’s passion and inspiring each other through laughter and relatively appropriate doses of OCD.

The result was a wonderful work of circus and visual arts that I hope will lead to more opportunities for exploration and collaboration.

Massive thanks to Julian Bracey, director of Cirque Bijou, and Howie Bailey for being absolute legends. True gratitude and respect also for John Bishop and his crew and the BBC.

Now rock on!

More lovely photos on my Flickr.

I’m not sure if it was a coincidence or through word of mouth, but just before my multi-media performance on the John Bishop Show was released on the BBC, I was invited to hula hoop live on the Blue Peter show…

It was so last minute, everything literally happened within a few hours, and that included running from London to Manchester to live TV, whilst beating a tube strike, in true ninja style… BOOM, HOOP, BANG!

You bet I got a Blue Peter badge for that!

Many thanks to everyone at the BBC Bridge House Manchester, it was great fun!

Just as 2015 kicked in, I had the immense pleasure to work with top gentleman juggler Mat Ricardo and perform ‘Atma’ in his End of the world cabaret  at the Albany, London.

It was an ‘Apocalypse now’ sort of show, where the only thing left to do before the asteroid hit the earth, was to steep oneself in amazing acts of gravity-defying dexterity, laugh and be entertained by some of the greatest variety acts in London.

Did we get hit? Are we still alive now? One thing is for sure, I am still spinning like Saturn.

Over the Christmas period I collaborated with the amazing Bertil Nilsson to create some images for the National Centre for Circus Arts.

The theme for the photo shoot was the ‘5 Gold Rings of Christmas’ and consequently, there was a lot of spinning involved.

 

Glastonbury Festival 2014

August 1, 2014

Despite the weather and extreme survival conditions, Glastonbury is always amazing.

This year, however, was particularly exciting as I got to perform not only ‘Atma’, but also 2 of my most recent hoop acts.

‘Black Out Days’ was specifically devised for the Circus Big Top and, although it was presented as work in progress, it received very positive feedback.

The greatest surprise of this year’s festival, however, was that I got asked to perform at the BBC Studio as part of their Friday Night Highlights, directly from the channel’s stage at the Park. This was an excellent and fun opportunity to show my ‘Great Gatsby’ inspired piece ‘Jazzy Daisy’, which went down a storm.

After all that excitement, keeping it up rehearsing and performing for almost 24 hours, after dragging your hoops all day around miles of muddy fields, what do you do when at Glasto?

I don’t know about you, but I go and dance my heart out until sunrise, at the jaws of a gigantic, fire spitting and laser shooting spider. That is why I love it so much in the field: it never stops feeding you its magic insanity.

 

 

An even bigger, even better Circus Big Top was my home for a week at Glastonbury Festival 2013.

Once again, it was an absolute pleasure to share the stage with so many incredibly talented performers, coming from all over the world.

In fact, thanks also to what was probably the warmest English summer in years, this was definitely the best Glastonbury of my life.. for now! A million thanks to Jade and Shaun Dunbar for making it happen. You guys rock!

“It is the unhappy marriage of physicality and mental instability that enables Box of Frogs to convey a visceral, memorable experience. While not a typically delightful tale, the generous range of performances ensures that the sheer joy of going to the circus is not abandoned.” From a review by Terri-Anne Teo for remotegoat.co.uk

In Autumn 2012, I continued the journey I started with Stumble danceCircus and toured the UK with the ensemble show ‘Box of Frogs’, directed by Mish Weaver.

We started at the Purcell Room at Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre, London, which was an absolute pleasure and honour to be performing at.

The tour continued and we performed in:

Preston (Preston Guild Festival in Expo Tent)

Bristol (Circomedia)

Devon (The Landmark, Ilfracombe)

Stockton-on Tees (ARC, Stockton Arts Centre)

Manchester (Contact)

Leeds (The Carriageworks)

Scotland (Eastwood Park Theatre, Giffnock)

“Box of Frogs is a circus show with a difference. 5 acrobats and 2 musicians play with the audience’s expectations from their own perspective of mental ill-health and performance, against a back drop of filmic illusions.”

Based on an exploration of Mish Weaver’s personal experience of bipolar disorder, the performance illustrates her take on the feelings, thoughts and behavior that are part of the condition through the medium of circus itself..

Photos taken by Steve Eggleton.

Two lovely short films were made by people at www.thespace.org, as part of the Push Me Collection series, to illustrate how Stumble danceCircus pushed us, the performers, out of our comfort zone, to reach previously unattained goals in ‘Box of Frogs’.

http://thespace.org/items/e0000epc?t=d228

http://thespace.org/items/e00015xe?t=xppn