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Rope and Pulley

July 29, 2007

Even Proms fans need a weekend off from time to time. And this weekend was one of them for Simon and I.

We ventured north of the Thames yesterday afternoon destined for Coronet Street in Hackney. It was a strange journey, one which jolted both of us into remembering the place we first met each other (at Limehouse on the Commerical Road) and the home of the then mutual acquaintance who got us together in the first place.

It also saw us driving through a strange area of London which skirts the edge of the City. Shoreditch, Old Street, Spitalfields and Hoxton are all areas which ooze a mixture of youthful excitement set against a dowdy London backdrop alongside some of the grimiest examples of so-called living the capital has to offer. The question “How does this kind degradation actually happen?” often came up in the car as we sped towards our destination.

The destination was Circus Space in Hackney, the home of what appears to be a circus and acrobatics school in a converted power station. The exterior is unassuming, the interior breathtaking. So too the skills of those amateur acrobats who were displaying their obvious talents to the assembled audience of friends, family and acquaintances.

There was without doubt, a laid back atmosphere in the converted combustion chamber. Ropes and pulleys hung down from wrought iron girders. Experienced amateurs and petrified audience alike sat cross-legged on the mats and floor staring up at a myriad of ropes and pullies hanging from chunky wrought iron girders.

One by one, each performer stepped forward and clambered to their starting position on the paraphenalia above them. Keen looking assistants crouched down in the background hanging on to ropes, ready to leap into action should events demand so. Music started, muscles flexed and within minutes of watching our first acrobat of the afternoon both Simon and I suddenly began to focus in awe at the amazing strength of the acrobats who performed in front of us.

The last acrobatics we saw was Cirque de Soleil’s La Nouba at Disney Boardwalk, Florida. The Amateur Acrobatics day at Circus Space 2007 was something infinitely more intimate and, given I had the unusual opportunity to witness a colleague from work demonstrate her own acrobatic skills, perhaps even more satisfying to watch.

There is something really quite humbling watching people manipulate their bodies into all sorts of different positions ten feet above the ground and, what I’m finding difficult to understand as to why, also quite relaxing to watch too.

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