Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Chapter 74: Circolombia at The Roundhouse

No se me importa un pito que las mujeres
tengan los senos como magnolias o como pasas de higo;
un cutis de durazno o de papel de lija.
Le doy una importancia igual a cero,
al hecho de que amanezcan con un aliento afrodisíaco
o con un aliento insecticida.
Soy perfectamente capaz de soportarles
una nariz que sacaría el primer premio
en una exposición de zanahorias;
¡pero eso sí! -y en esto soy irreductible

- no les perdono, bajo ningún pretexto, que no sepan volar.

from Espantapájaros (Scarecrow) by Oliverio Girondo 
or see my interpretation at the end

 Espantapúblico: Circolombia's Julia Sanchez Aja 

Lianna - check out her website:
When I was about 12 I fell in love with Spanish. Or maybe it was the Spanish teacher at our little convent school. The formidably fierce, elegant, young Mercedes held us in thrall decked out in her modern Mediterranean colours (all taupes, olive greens, russet browns) in contrast to the old-fashioned black and starched white habits of our Irish sisters. And more exotic still, Mercedes had a boyfriend. Suffice to say the spark that she ignited has since become an all-consuming blazing fire. I love speaking Spanish. It gives me a freedom to communicate a passion, warmth, joy and enthusiasm that in English may get  written off as "excitable". For me, Spanish is more than a language, it is a state of mind, just like circus. A space that challenges constraints and crosses boundaries.  So what a treat when the two worlds collide, when they fuse and I short-circuit, as with  Circolombia and their show Aceleré, which gets the heart of circus pumping, and the audience pulsating, to an urban latino beat. And on Friday night I went along with over a dozen friends for the ride. The friends were all from different areas of my life (sounds familiar? See Chapter 1: A Circus Experience), and while some may have crossed paths before, in the main they didn't know each other. Still, they all share that curiosity and openness to otherness and new experiences that makes them great company. 

I felt a bit like the Pied Piper actually. As I travelled up with a girlfriend on the Northern Line, one friend got into our carriage, then her partner at the next stop, and so on. By the time we got out at Chalk Farm most of us had been united, and introductions were made over heads in the lift on the way up to the general a(be)musement of the rest of the occupants. We hit The Roundhouse buzzing, connected, and ready for more.

Soledad Gomez Acevedo & Oscar MauricioRojas Guasca on straps
The performance that followed was one of extraordinary strength, agility, courage, playfulness, power and poetry. All the world-class performers in Circolombia are graduates of the National School "Circo Para Todos" which provides support through professional circus training to young people at risk, founded by Brit, Felicity Simpson, building bridges. Watching the Circolombia guys backflip from a hand-to-hand handstand onto a pair of hands behind or somersault from swings onto a platform of hands, left me not speechless, but rather drained of expletives. I don't normally swear in English but the words jerked out of me at every climax. Each time there was a sense that the performers were continually responding and assessing whether they could go that little bit further today. And then go for it, or on occasion maybe not. Absolute trust and breath-taking risk. Fundamental cornerstones to each trick. And that gave the show its raw edge that made it both terrifying and exhilarating to watch.  As well as astonishing acrobatics from teeterboard, swing and from each other, there was an extraordinarily sensual duet on straps, a cloud swinger whose aerial state defines her identity and a sequence where butanes of gas, with lights on the base became suspended aerial supports round which four performers whirled with a graceful luminosity. Ironic really, as the energy the evening generated was so high-octane it lit up the Roundhouse and spilled onto the streets.

John Rodriguez

Afterwards some of the performers stayed behind to sell CDs of Ryan Willmott's superb musical score, have pictures taken with their adoring (excitable!) fans - what's the Spanish for groupie anyone? not acosadora, por Dios! - and generally chat. Talk about stamina. They revealed themselves to be utter sweethearts whose gentle, easygoing nature explained the relaxed insouciance that was part of their on-stage charm. The English me still cringes at the thought of introducing myself to these young guys and handing over my cards, but in Spanish I'm a shameless sinvergüenza which overrided any embarrassment,  and afterwards we decamped to the bar where the caipirinhas did the rest. So here's to old souls and new memories. 

Cheers Circolombia! Salud! Aché!

Juan Eugenio Bonilla Landazuri, Gustavo Adolfo Quinones Castro, Jhon Edward Angulo Ibarguen, Jhon Gerlin Rodriguez Riascos, Daniel Muñoz, Juan Manuel Navarro Rubiano, Juan Camilo Gaitan López, Soledad Gomez Acevedo, Oscar Mauricio Rojas Guasca, Julia Sánchez Aja, Lianna, Diana Vargas.

Standing ovation all round

My Interpretation of Oliverio Girondo's Scarecrow:

I don't give a toss whether women have breasts soft as magnolias or wrinkled as prunes;
a skin soft as peaches or scratchy as a filing board.
I am completely indifferent 
as to whether their morning breath is an aphrodisiac
or tastes  of insecticide,
I am can perfectly well put up with 
a nose that would win first prize in
a carrot competition
but know one thing, and on this point I am resolute:

- I don't excuse, under any pretext, that they not know how to fly. 

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