What do you do when you’ve achieved critical and commercial success at both Adelaide Fringe and Adelaide Festival? For local circus company Gravity & Other Myths the answer was to set their sights even higher.
'The Pulse' brings more than 50 performers together on stage, and all of them have their eyes trained upwards. Thirty acrobats enter in ones and twos, echoing each other’s movements hypnotically as the black-clad choir members talk among themselves casually. First words, then phrases and entire voices disappear as both groups swell in numbers, replaced by a ceaseless chatter that drowns any meaning until the dancers fall to the ground. When they pick themselves up, they converge and climb over each other as they attempt to create some order from this babel.
Acrobats pinball into each other and falter individually, collapsing under the inevitability of their own weight but each time they regroup, reaching ever higher like the waves of an incoming tide.
The level of skill and agility is sublime as performers clamber up human towers and leap fearlessly between them, eliciting regular gasps from the audience. But it’s the sheer scale that’s most impressive, the regularity with which these feats are performed as the improbably tall human structures simultaneously evolve and collapse on different parts of the stage. Between it all there are sections approaching dance but for the most part action is based around a series of dramatic tricks rather than the internal rhythm of the performers.
And above it all conductor Christie Anderson marshals her choir as they prompt and then heighten the action over a woozy rumbling bass until she takes leave from them, her wordless vocals soaring higher than anyone else on stage. Anderson’s beatific voice gives weight to the most dramatic passages of action, the melismatic phrasing freed of any meaning but the desire to reach higher, ever higher.
Because more than anything else 'The Pulse' is a soaring tribute to ambition and resilience, an apt way to start the year for an Adelaide audience fortunate enough to enjoy the performance in person.