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“The Words Unspoken” – A Student Response to Reversible

When hearing about Reversible, “a circus performance”, I expected a show. And by show in this context I mean people “showing off” strength, flexibility, whatever talent they may have. I expected stretched smiles across their faces with dry eyes and front facing bows like I used to see in the circus as a child. I expected loud music with rumbles and percussion climaxes, and a rumbling audience. It was nothing like that.

For me, watching the 7 Fingers perform felt similar to watching an old black and white movie. It comes down to the essence of performance and lighting, the music, the subtle nuances, the hand caressing a face, the words unspoken. As a woman stood on one hand with both feet in the air, turning into an ocean wave, I did not dare to clap. Some of the audience did, but even they seemed to have waited for a breath. When two men did a kind of parkour through the set on foot and with a skateboard keeping eye contact with the audience as they jumped through windows, I could not help but smile. When a woman with hoops gracefully lifted her leg over her head, while holding a hoop on her knee and another in her hand, I wondered, “what is she thinking right at this moment?”

Aesthetically everything was beautiful but what stood out more were the raw edges of the performances. There is a certain energy in circus. Something that drew me from an early age into joining the circus after school club, driving an hour to the only gymnastics class in town and practicing for weeks, just to be able to ride along my neighbors fence on a unicycle.

What I loved most about circus when I started was the constant practice. My sister and I would spend all afternoon together in the backyard doing handstands. The amount of times I fell off the beam or fell on my face off the unicycle made the times where i finally did find the focus, almost dreamlike. When observing the acrobats perform yesterday it all came back to me.

I saw them panting after a tough performance and observed them re-centering their minds to take on the next task. I saw them make eye contact before jumping off a pole into each other’s arms, and wipe off pearls of sweat from their foreheads after a difficult jump.

Most beautiful to me was the slight shaking of the muscles, the regaining of balance after a flip and the trembling hands interconnecting to walk up to the front of the stage at the end.

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