For the first time since its inception, boundary-pushing Australian circus company, Gravity & Other Myths, is bringing a full-length physical theatre work to Canberra. Combining sexy, virtuosic circus with innovative concepts, Backbone tests the limits of strength.
Circus as an artform has a number of common associations: a large tent, grand spectacle, and suspense. Backbone subverts and plays with these expectations, embracing deceptively simple staging and dispensing with trickery and distraction, instead foregrounding the raw talent and strong connections of the performers.
Two members of the ensemble, Annalise Moore and Benton Adams-Walker, grew up in Canberra before moving to Melbourne to train at the National Institute of Circus Arts (NICA). Canberra is home to Warehouse Circus, a youth circus organisation, which helps provide career pathways in circus for young people in the region.
“I didn’t personally go there [Warehouse], but we have a few acrobats in the company who did,” Annalise said from Dusseldorf, Germany where Gravity & Other Myths is currently on tour.
“I actually moved to Canberra for the AIS (Australian Institute of Sport) and I did gymnastics at Canberra City Gymnastics and a little bit of dance through school.
“After that, I was going to open training sessions at my old gymnastics centre and some people from Warehouse Circus were also there training circus. I started playing with some acrobatic stuff and that was when I really found circus.”
Annalise auditioned for NICA and after graduating started working professionally as an acrobat. She now spends the majority of the year performing overseas, mostly in Europe.
“I’ve never performed circus in Canberra so I am really excited to do a show here in my hometown,” she said. “It will be really special.”
And what can Canberra audiences expect from Backbone?
“It’s not a heavy storyline, audiences can still just enjoy the physical side of everything, but the work is heavily based on a theme and that is strength. That can be portrayed in lots of different ways – physically, emotionally, mentally.
“There is space for the audience to perceive the show and take from it what they want. We try to get a message out as well as do sick tricks, which we of course love. But it is a way for us as performers to explore different ways to move and push ourselves as well.”
Annalise, along with other members of Gravity & Other Myths, has spent time with arguably the world’s most well-known circus company, Cirque Du Soleil.
A massive business spanning multiple continents, Cirque Du Soleil, provides an exciting experience on a completely different scale. But Annalise is content being part of a smaller operation.
“Our company feels like a family,” she said. “The directors of the company, the people who founded it, are still performing. Each cast has a tour manager who does the work of liaising with theatres but then also performs. We are all very close and spend all our time together.”
This sense of community comes through in every performance, and has brought Gravity & Other Myths national and international acclaim with more than 700 shows at 98 festivals and theatres across 29 countries.
Gravity & Other Myths, along with other Australian circus companies such as Circa and physical theatre companies including Legs on the Wall, is striving to change the way we think about and experience circus.
The Canberra performance of Backbone provides a rare opportunity for audiences across the Territory and surrounding regions to see exhilarating, cutting-edge circus performed by a tight-knit ensemble.
Canberra Theatre Centre
13-15 October, 2022