Aerial performed on unusual and custom-built apparatus. Ockham's Razor are a company who, with their first trilogy of short pieces and with the full-length follow-up The Mill, have made a name for themselves as aerialists devising work around an open exploration of the properties of unique equipment. They're good examples of both ends of the spectrum: the simple and the complex. The steel frame of their duet Memento Mori is like a trapeze – without the flexion and with a different visual mood, but basically like a trapeze – whereas the great turning wheel of The Mill is a complex and dangerous machine radically unlike any of circus' traditional apparatus.
'It's not very interesting for the audience to just watch a female character having her own identity crisis, but it takes on another dimension when it comes to wider questions: Who am I? How does my environment affect me? In what sense am I an 'identity'? How do people perceive me?'
In Miroir, Miroir a suspended aerial mirror is the stage for Mélissa Von Vépy’s work on identity, the unknown, and the symbol of the looking glass. Here she talks about the making of the piece.
We start with an empty stage, bar a lone musician, Joanna Quail, who is teasing a mournful, yearning tune from her cello. Enter mic stand festooned with black feathers (brought on by stagehands who seem a little unsure about whether they are visible or not), and crooner Dusty Limits, who sings a melancholic version of I Wanna Be Loved By You.
Last year I saw and reviewed the first part of Muualla, a collaboration between exceptional Finnish aerialist Ilona Jäntti and animator Tuula Jeker, and was broadly charmed by the world it created—a child's realm of exploration and pantomime danger where both the pleasures and the threats were imaginary.
The Mill: a giant, suspended wheel, human-powered, wrapped in rope that runs out over a network of high pulleys to several smaller cogs. Four people tend it: one on the big wheel, one inside; two to perch upon the littler reels and walk them forward.
Ockham’s Razor’s latest production plays out on a giant aerial wheel, man-sized, metal and wood, spiked by twin ridges of naked bolts: The Mill.
Sideshow talks to them about the difficulties and benefits of developing work for custom apparatus, their status as a circus company, and the addition of two new cast members—at the same time accidentally uncovering the provenance of the modern, running zombie.
In a festival overloaded with interesting collaborations Greenwich+Docklands this year brought together Australian street arts and circus company Strange Fruit, who work atop custom four-metre sway poles, with disabled-led theatre company Graeae.
I’ve been a dedicated stalker—wait, wait, supporter—of Ockham’s Razor since I first saw them perform Every Action at Circus Futures in 2006. About 20 minutes long, played out on a length of rope run over two raised pulleys, it’s a sweetly inventive aerial farce which, like a lot of their work, gets right to the soul of circus.
Ilona Jäntti is a tremendous aerialist. She’s been in circus a long time and has the consequent deep well of physical resources, but it’s style, really, that sets her apart: graceful but not too-clean, having an all-body approach where elbows, teeth, anything can be used to keep her in the air.