• German Wheel

    A wheel made from two steel hoops joined by struts – looking like a ladder bent round into a circle – which rolls the ground with an acrobat inside or beside or above. Unpoetically described as a 'giant hamster wheel', the diameter of the German wheel is generally a little longer than the acrobat is high, and unlike the hamster's play-thing is free to roll the floor. There's a big scene around the discipline that's connected to gymnastics and sports acrobatics, with practitioners competing at conventions and executing routines that in costume and choreography resemble stylised figure skating, but the skill is taught in some circus schools too.

    Among contemporary circus practitioners the German wheel perhaps isn't a very popular choice – it's fairly heavy to transport and demands flat, long flooring for training and performance – but there are artists working with the equipment and particularly exploring its potential as an apparatus that the performer rides and moves sympathetically with rather than (at all times) fully controls.

  • Magazine

    By John Ellingsworth on 28 June 2011 in Features

    'A squally clouded-over day, then, to accompany the revival of Greenwich Fair, a hoary old tradition in Greenwich Park which, until it was banned a century and a half ago, annually saw the erection of open-air markets, lurid theatres, bandstands, fairground rides, penny shies, and insalubrious premises (licensed and unlicensed), to accommodate a sudden competitive influx of entertainers, musicians, hawkers, and exotic beast-tamers—plus of course the roiling crowds of audience/punters/buyers/marks who came to be amused by the dreadful melodramas, fleeced by the mountebanks, and psychically obliterated by liquor.'

    A round-up of the action at Greenwich + Docklands Festival 2011, with work by Acrojou Circus Theatre, Elastic Theatre, Company FZ, and others.

    By John Ellingsworth on 23 November 2009 in Features

    Duvets and white linen lie in trails and heaps about the studio. Jeni Barnard and Barney White, Acrojou, have fed an elongated hatstand through the centre of their German Wheel and are lashing it to the bars. Fixing the stand, the bottom half of which looks like it might be the inner tube of a carpet roll, the two push the Wheel up onto a low pedestal. You can see how heavy it is—more or less a thick steel ladder worked into a circle, the German Wheel rolls easy on the flat but has to be heaved up an incline.