'Fauna' and 'Gravity & Other Myths' acrobat Rhiannon Cave-Walker welcomes you to the jungle this Fringe season.
Perhaps 100,000 years ago, homo sapiens began co-ordinating the use of their tongues, lips and vocal organs to communicate through speech. Before then, like all other animals, we talked predominately through the manipulation of our muscles and joints; the flaring of nostrils, the puffing of the chest or the cowering of our shoulders in submission.
In ‘Fauna’ a new acrobatic ensemble of the same name aim to demonstrate the universality of movement, as the petite and high flying handstand extraordinaire Rhiannon Cave-Walker explains.
“What we find really interesting about what we’re trying to research and develop within 'Fauna' is coming back down to the organic, primal way of moving and almost using our bodies to try to communicate with each other. We’re using animalistic movements but it’s also kind of working with organic movement and flow and working together to create this movement language; it’s really exciting!”
Each of the five acrobats in the troupe have been searching for their spirit animal or animals; representatives from the animal kingdom that mirror their personalities to a degree.
Rhiannon can relate to the bushy tailed scampering critters of the forest. “As humans, you have multiple different stages of your personality and we want to research into that; in saying that we do want to encapsulate characters that have similar traits to us as a person and I’m a very small but active human so I work with the squirrel-like character because I like to run around and get into small places and I’ve got a lot of energy... And because I’m so small I like to be thrown around. We get inspiration from the animal movement but it’s not going to be too literal; no animal costumes or too much facial work.”
The quintet of tumblers that comprise 'Fauna' met in the inspiring eco-system of Sweden’s pre-eminent circus school, DOCH. There, they were imbued with the same creative ethos, which Rhiannon believes provided a sturdy foundation for this new rich and cohesive collaborative partnership. “Having all of us acrobats study and develop our artistic flavour and techniques in the same place, it’s really special for us all to have a very similar movement vocabulary and way of working.”
Musician Geordie Little has seamlessly integrated himself into this tightly knitted circus family, composing a soundtrack inspired by the acrobatic habitat.
“Geordie is a phenomenal musician; his main focus, we call it slap guitar: it’s a guitar that sits on his lap. Through working with us, the acrobats, he has gotten really into using the music to heighten what we do. He’s been working a lot with looping and a chaos pad; there are parts of the show where he records the sound of our acrobatics and then makes a song out of that. It’s really like music and movement coming together as one; [the music] is not just one extra layer.”
The years of diligent and strenuous training have prepared Rhiannon for the month-long exertion of the Adelaide Fringe season. “We were studying at university for 12 hours a day, but performing is quite a different stamina. You’re putting yourself out there and giving a lot. But our bodies are malleable.”
“It’s such a satisfying aspect of almost mastering your discipline... To be able to just use specific types of muscles and a certain part of your brain, so that you’re not using so much body and brain capacity that you exhaust yourself.”