Interview With…Anna McDonnell

The acrobat spoke to Love London Love Culture’s Emma Clarendon about being part of Chivaree Circus and their latest show CRASH as part of the Winterville Festival. 

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What can audiences expect from CRASHThe show is a modern reworking of a nineteenth century ballet, ‘La Sylphide.’ This is about as close as you’re ever going to get to the action in a circus show. The Spiegeltent at Winterville immerses the audience in dizzying aerial acts, handstands, contemporary ballet and acrobatics, all sewn together with some seriously oneiric live music that will instantly transport you to another world.

Is there anything that you find particularly challenging in CRASH?  CRASH has been such an amazing show to put together thanks to the amazing team of performers, directors and producers. The only challenging thing is that this time of year is particularly busy for circus performers. Some of us are doing two shows a night so it takes its physical toll, but somehow you always manage to summon up the energy as soon as you hit the stage (especially with a lively audience).

What is it that you love the most about what you do?  The best thing about being a circus performer is getting to work with creative people all the time and bounce ideas off each other. It’s like being a perpetual child and playing make-believe on loop. It can also be really satisfying to see little doses of progress in the way your body moves every day and it’s a great way of expressing yourself on those days you can’t quite find the words.

How would you describe CRASH?  CRASH is this atmospheric mirror world, where the characters journey into the forest, manipulating each other, or being manipulated by others, culminating in a delirious dance of self-discovery. The main character is lured into the woods to indulge his fantasy of an unobtainable love affair. In the original ballet, the female protagonist is sacrificed in the wake of this search, but the ‘Chivaree’ version injects this ending with a feminist twist.

How did you get involved with Chivaree Circus? I first got involved with Chivaree Circus last year when I got picked to form part of the cast of Becoming Shades at VAULT Festival. It was truly one of the most amazing shows I’ve been lucky enough to be part of; completely different to anything I’d seen before.

What do you think makes circus so special? I love the fact that circus can connect with everyone of all ages and all backgrounds. I think on some level, it speaks to peoples’ childhoods and that makes it quite nostalgic. The circus tent is that parallel space to our daily existence, where rules are defied (the first one being gravity) and pretty much anything goes. There’s something about the risk, the irreverence, the playfulness that everyone can get behind. Circus is a real space for freedom. It’s not really a uniform discipline like ballet, or gymnastics, so as a performer, you can really bring your own personality to the table and make it what you want it to be.

By Emma Clarendon 

Chivaree Circus continues to perform CRASH as part of the Winterville Festival until the 22nd December. 


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