December 28, 2016
One of my highlights of 2016 was having the opportunity to collaborate with another hula hoop warrior – actually, one of the very first hula hoopers I ever met, years ago – the amazing Grace Billings.
Within one month of long distance rehearsals, we created a powerful LED hoop duo for a run of Christmas shows at Bloomsbury Big Top, London, as part of ‘Cirque Extraordinaire’.
Teardrop is a highly-skilled, sophisticated and sassy performance that combines dance and hula hooping with the latest, cutting-edge LED technology. Custom illuminating colours, patterns and graphics are delivered on stage in conjunction with seamless movements and choreography, to create an unforgettable, multi-dimensional visual experience.
Shot and cut by Thomas Johansson
Soundtrack by Massive Attack.
July 23, 2016
Like an ever spinning wheel, life sets us a challenge when we least expect it, to test our courage and willingness to change…
‘Hoops In Motion’ is a wonderfully exciting journey, a piece of circus and visual arts, originally commissioned by John Bishop and further developed by Cirque Bijou and with support from the National Centre for Circus Arts.
Film by Thomas Johansson (thomas-johansson.com/)
What are your taboos?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
July 10, 2015
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!
October 11, 2014
December 5, 2012
“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)
Devon (The Landmark, Ilfracombe)
Stockton-on Tees (ARC, Stockton Arts Centre)
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’.
February 6, 2012
In October 2011, I started working with Stumble danceCircus on a very different circus – theatre show, ‘Box of Frogs’. Under the direction of Mish Weaver, I joined another 4 circus performers and 2 musicians to explore Bipolar disorder and the connections between mental health and performance. After an extremely interesting and emotional first month of creation, we premiered the show at Jackson’s Lane Theatre, London. We will be bringing a newly developed version of the show back to the stage, in April 2012, so come and check it out: http://www.jacksonslane.org.uk/whats-on/event/2012/box-of-frogs