In one of the more hilarious moments of my life, I recently discovered that I am living underneath a troupe of Australian acrobats. I found this out when I went upstairs to politely enquire about the tremendous stamping/thumping/crash-bang-walloping noises they were making. WHAT ARE YOU, GIANTS? ARE YOU SUMO-WRESTLERS? ARE YOU JUST THROWING EACH OTHER AROUND THE ROOM? (I ever-so-politely asked.)
Actually yes, they said. The last one.
After I stopped laughing, they gave me a couple of free tickets to their show, so this afternoon a friend and I went along to see it. I knew it would be good, because acrobats and circuses are always thrilling. We sat right at the front, crowded around the few square metres of performance space.
“It’s audience participation,” I joked to my friend. “Can you remember how to do a forward roll?”
The acrobats started with a bit of fun skipping-and-stripping, but soon got into the serious business of DEFYING GRAVITY. They held each other in the air, balancing on hands, heads, shoulders. They climbed up each other’s bodies to reach the ceiling. I had my hands over my mouth most of the time, thinking there was no way I could be seeing what I was seeing.
In one particularly mesmerising section, two of the guys balanced on one another, whilst the sole female acrobat stepped and climbed over them. The game was that she couldn’t touch the ground. Wherever she stepped, there had to be a hand or a thigh or a head or something to hold her off the floor. This was a beautiful piece which not only showed the strength and coordination of these athletes, but also the depth of their connection to one another. There was something very humane and touching in seeing them move almost like one extraordinary body.
The most incredible piece, however, was the finale, in which the guys literally threw the woman around the space in a sequence that became ever more impossibly wonderful. She leapt from their hands, spiraling through the air, to land on other hands. She flew like a bird. There was always an edge of danger, a sense that they might just drop her (but of course they never did). Afterwards, my friend and I both had the same thought – how many times must they have flung her off into empty space before they perfected this routine? And how crazily talented she was, how focused, and how strong.
I can honestly say I’ve never seen anything like this before. Having said that, whilst they were doing an intense bout of backflips, I did think to myself that I’d heard something like this before. I’m pretty sure they do that in their living room. It would explain a lot. Of course, my first (proud) words to my friend upon leaving were, “They’re my neighbours, you know.”
If you’re in Edinburgh, go and see them! The show is called ‘Gravity and Other Myths’ and is on every day at the Gilded Balloon (Teviot).
(And yes, before anyone shouts at me, I *am* supposed to be writing a novel and I *will* get right back to it, this second. Jeez.)