Originally published August 19, 2016.
Have you made it to the Fringe yet? It's the last weekend here in Edmonton! We found a killer physical theatre show that features corde lisse (aerial rope) so of course we had to reach out to co-creator Esther de Monteflores about her show, CLIMB, touring from Vancouver.
CLIMB by Deathbench Productions
Fringe Venue 1 - ATB Financial Westbury Theatre
Friday, Aug 19th - 10:15pm
Sunday, Aug 21st - 12:15pm
(CircoFit) Tell us about your show! Why should we go see it? (Esther) CLIMB is something of a hybrid of circus and theatre that draws inspiration from a bunch of different sources but at its heart is the question of how movement and personal narratives change over the course of our lives. Do you remember how, when you were a kid, time seemed to move more slowly and a year was unimaginably long?
We got thinking about how it felt like, as we got older, time was speeding up a bit and that led us to look at how growing up and growing old changes our self-awareness, our motor control, our cognition, our movement, and the narratives we tell about who we are. Oh, also, there’s cool aerial acrobatics and some really funny and moving writing as well as a gorgeous original score.
How were you introduced to circus? I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area in California and was fortunate to be exposed to a lot of phenomenal circus as a kid. The Pickle Family Circus and Make*A*Circus as well as the San Francisco Mime Troupe were all really influential for me. In addition to local troupes, companies like Cirque Eloize were touring to San Francisco when I was young. I was so lucky to be able to go to these circus shows and see world class performers.
Where do you train now? I co-rent a studio in Bellingham, Washington called the Cirque Lab. A bunch of circus performers who live in Bellingham all pitch in to maintain the space as a training facility as well as a performance space.
Is corde lisse your apparatus of choice? If I'm working as an aerialist, corde lisse is my apparatus of choice. I love the simplicity and clarity of the rope, I think that it really highlights the performer's movement.
In reality, though, I work mostly as a slackwire walker these days. I was an aerialist for a long time but always secretly wanted to be a wire walker. So I started training slackwire, eventually found a coach in San Francisco who I worked with, and then started performing slackwire about two years ago. Now that's my primary circus discipline.
So CLIMB is super special for me because it's so different from most of my other work.
What are your top tips for avoiding bruises and rope burn? I actually bruise super easily, it runs in my family, so there's no real avoiding it for me. Besides, it makes you look cool, right?!?
Basically, I try to really understand the mechanics of the movements that I'm doing and then dress appropriately for it when I'm training so that I don't burn myself. Circus can be really hard on your body but it's so worth it.
What's your favourite trick? Is it the audience's favourite? I think that I'm most proud of my single arm hang. It's a move that seems to speak to both audiences and other circus artists. You don't need to know anything about aerial arts to know that hanging by one hand from the top of a rope is neat.
Rock rosin, spray rosin, neither, or both? Rock rosin + isopropyl rubbing alcohol. I try to resist using rosin when I'm conditioning so that I can train my grip strength but I do use it in performance. For CLIMB, I'm on stage for a full 45 minutes and it does get quite sweaty so the rosin really helps keep my hands from being slick towards the end of the show.
Any advice for our readers who want to story tell on corde lisse? I think that what's especially cool about aerial arts is that there is already so much symbolism to the very act of being a human up in the air. I try to start from the place of, "What is this movement or this position or this action already saying?" and then I build from there.
Thanks, Esther! Where can our readers see CLIMB and learn more about you? We have two more shows at the Edmonton Fringe Festival. One tonight (Friday the 19th) at 10:15pm and our final show is Sunday the 21st at 12:15pm.
You can pick up tickets here: https://tickets.fringetheatre.ca
You can also check out our website: www.deathbenchproductions.com for a bit more info about myself and Meredith Hambrock who co-created CLIMB. Photo credit: Abbye Dahl.