Acrobats challenge their limits to perform, entertain

Cirkopolis acrobat Rosita Hendry performs with a Cyr wheel at the Dunedin Railway Station yesterday. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
Cirkopolis acrobat Rosita Hendry performs with a Cyr wheel at the Dunedin Railway Station yesterday. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
Acrobats appear to spend most of their lives in uncomfortable positions on stage.

But members of the Montreal-based Cirque Eloize who are performing their show, Cirkopolis, in Dunedin for the next three days, have revealed their graceful and agile work can be even more uncomfortable than many people realise.

Cirkopolis performer Rosita Hendry said she broke a rib while doing aerial silk acrobatics two years ago, and continued to perform for six weeks despite the pain, until she realised something was seriously wrong.

''It was sore and I knew something was wrong because the rib was moving in and out.

''Eventually, we found out it was fractured.''

The 27-year-old Aucklander said she pushed through the pain for so long because people were paying to see her perform.

But the injury became so painful, she had to take six months off to recover, and spent a further six months working her way back to full-time training and performance.

Fellow acrobat Antonin Wicky (27), of Switzerland, said audiences often forgot how dangerous their profession was.

Acrobats had died on stage during performances, he said.

''We don't like to talk about our injuries, but we are always a bit injured because it is really rough for the body.

''But we know how to work with it, how to take care of it. We always have some pains so it's normal for us to work with that.

''It's our goal to make it look easy. It's a lot of work. We work for many, many years to achieve that. Now, it's kind of easy for us, but we are always working with some danger on stage.

''We are playing with this danger and we know it. We control the danger as much as we can.''

Cirkopolis is a family-friendly show, described as a ''day-dreaming marriage'' of circus, dance and theatre.

And somehow, knowing how much danger surrounds the performers, makes the show even more engaging.

The show is set in the heart of a stern and imposing city, where giant gears and dark portals symbolise a mechanism that crushes individuality.

The 12 performing artists rebel against monotony, reinvent themselves and challenge the limits of the ''factory-city''.

The inventive stage design, original musical score and video projections transform the performers' world into a place where fantasy defies reality, and anonymity and solitude are replaced by bursts of humour and colour.

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