Australian Dance Reviews

Gravity & Other Myths in ‘The Mirror’: A unique circus experience

Gravity & Other Myths in 'The Mirror'. Photo by Daniel Boud.
Gravity & Other Myths in 'The Mirror'. Photo by Daniel Boud.

Sydney Opera House, Sydney.
14 February 2023.

Gravity & Other Myths (GOM) have brought their latest offering The Mirror contemporary circus show to see out the summer at Sydney Opera house (SOH). GOM are an Adelaide-born circus company that emerged from humble roots in 2009, at a circus festival, now touring the globe entertaining audiences far and wide.

The Mirror is a multidisciplinary show that explores the world of ‘permanent self-presentation’, utilising LED lights and a wall, selfie sticks and cameras, live music, and virtuoso performance of contemporary circus skills. The work goes through a variety of moods, exploring various aspects of the concept, ascending in skill as the human towers get higher, the flips get trickier and the daring feats multiply.

Live song is performed by show composer Ekrem Eli Phoenix to soundscape track, bringing a skilful mash-up of pop songs, new and old, some sung, some spoken, all familiar. At one point, he walks through the audience; at one point, he is thrown around the space as one of the acrobats. Phoenix holds his own, humorous in his presentation, a wonderful thread throughout the work, tying in the various moods, elements and interactions.

Gameplay is where it started for GOM at their conception, and this shines through in the work. They have a uniquely Australian feel – playful, casual, but oh so precise. They are a delight to watch, coming across as nonchalant about their incredible strength, which really does blow the mind, adding to their play on cheekiness, with an openness of expression that endears them to the audience. The style in The Mirror is reflective of early-mid 2000s Australian contemporary dance, when ground-breaking works such as Chunky Move’s Mortal Engine and Australian Dance Theatre’s thrasher style power-works such as Birdbrain and G were emerging. With the LED lighting and movement working together, the sombreness in some sections and going a bit nutty in others, the style of humour, the way the movement made a statement. It was fantastic to see these homegrown influences coming through in the work. Whilst not dance per se, they lack the technical prowess of dancers, they include elements that are reminiscent of this genre, and it is quite special. They move around the whole space and do not restrict their act to just tricks, there are also some wonderful, organic choreographic sequences that flow throughout the work.

Costumes were as on the move as the acrobats were, with constant changes that emphasized narrative, character, humour and mood. They were minimal, but it allowed us to see the work they were doing in full force. It did not feel like they were trying to challenge in that way so many do, undressing for ‘shock value’, but in speaking the part of the intended narrative, “What do we want to show the world and is it something that others want to see? What does authenticity mean, especially in the age of ubiquitous screens and permanent self-presentation?”, the intricacy of this idea was woven throughout, and the costume usage breathes this idea, as if a performer in its own right.

The Mirror is thoroughly entertaining, funny, thought-provoking contemporary circus. There is some wonderful choreography in the work, and they are creating a truly unique circus experience. They are a wonderful representation of Australian creativity and spirit. The Mirror is showing at SOH until 11 March. Don’t miss it!

By Linda Badger of Dance Informa.

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