Backbone at Royal Festival Hall
Australian circus troupe Gravity & Other Myths take the Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall in their UK premiere show, Backbone. Combining inspired acrobatics with live music, the performance sets the bar for other theatre shows.
As the dancers lie motionless on the floor, stage lighting slowly brightens, revealing a standing suit of armour, clothes on a rack and, even more curious, tins of soil. The performers communicate inaudibly, while setting up the stage with upright long poles, followed by some astonishing feats of lithe movements, where the cast step from the top of one head to the next, and construct super pyramids of four people, nearly reaching the ceiling rigs, to audible gasps from the audience. The live music adds a sensual dimension to Backbone, with ambient jazz and electronic instrumentals intelligently used, making the aerobic sequences truly come to life.
The ten-piece ensemble continue to break boundaries throughout; presenting a minimalist organic show devoid of hoops, swings and other circus apparatus, they instead inventively use their bodies to create nerve-wracking arrangements of balance and poise. One act within Backbone involves the dancers scattering soil from the buckets, making small circles within which they perform superbly precise aerobics, continually surprising and imaginative. Swapping hands and fellow dancers when swinging them across the stage, the group’s knowledge and understanding is clear. Involvement of the two live musicians in the show is also refreshing, as they assist the dancers in performing the funniest routine of the evening: an elastic band is wound around the waist of the musicians, while the cast shout out numbers one to ten, the elastic is then stretched by the remaining members, striking the two who say the same number simultaneously.
Tonight’s performance showcases one of the truly exceptional theatre troupes working today. With individual pieces demonstrating the group’s originality and their daring artistry, the line-up presents a calisthenic display that both stuns and awes in equal measure, proving they have plenty of backbone – and making one viewer exclaim: “That was one of the best things I’ve ever seen.”
Photo: Carnival Cinema
Backbone is at the Southbank Centre from 14th until 19th August 2018. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
Watch the trailer for Backbone here: