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Inclusive circus company Extraordinary Bodies visit City Arts

Date published: 1 Jun 2017

Posted by: Joe Pick

Disabled performer with flags

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Extraordinary Bodies is a professional inclusive circus company based in the UK. They create joyful, radical and bold performance and increase awareness, capacity and leadership for integrated arts practice nationally. A partnership between Cirque Bijou and Diverse City, together they are experts in outdoor arts, spectacle, circus, theatre, integrated performance and community engagement.

Extraordinary Bodies invited City Arts to be one of ten organisations helping them to research their latest project. They are asking the question ‘What am I worth?’ and through this, getting a snapshot of contemporary Britain, and the highs and lows of the people who live there. As well as this, they are sharing their circus skills, their approach to performance, making new connections, and supporting people to be brave1

The company visited Nottingham to work with a truly integrated group of people; disabled and non-disabled young people and adults, graduates, volunteers, artists and performers. Over three days, we shared stories, learnt and tested new skills, and pushed our boundaries. We spent two days in the studios at Dance4, getting to know each other and our bodies. We found out what we were capable of, and built trust through verbal and physical games. The middle day we spent with the Notts Circus Hub on Sneinton Market, exploring trust and balance, and using their aerial rigs, including silks and hoops.

There were some amazing personal moments over the three days, including supporting one participant out of his wheelchair and into the aerial silks, giving him the chance to fly above everyone else. Another participant, who is a wheelchair user, found the trust and balance activities inspiring. She supported people to balance, giving help and encouragement to others, when, as she said herself, she is normally the person who receives it. Finally, one participant built enough trust to let Nelly from Extraordinary Bodies, a hula hoop artist, stand on his shoulders and perform with her hoop. It was truly spectacular.

The session was rounded off, of course, with a bit of carnival. The City Arts obsession with all things colour was brought to the room by Can Samba’s SaRena Kay. She shared ideas about dance and movement and showed us how a few simple props can make this more spectacular.

We began as a group of individuals and finished closer from our fantastic shared experience. Even though the circus has left town, these relationships are built to last, and we look forward to seeing everyone again soon.

Thanks to Extraordinary Bodies for coming to visit!