There’s a famous quote from the film The Third Man. “In Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace – and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.” It’s wrong, of course. The cuckoo clock is generally through to have been invented in Bavaria. But Brave Space proves its entire theory is wrong too.
Art created from joy and defined by teamwork
That’s because Brave Space isn’t art created from strife, but art created from joy and defined by teamwork. From the very beginning, you are warmly welcomed into the venue and politely informed of the ground rules, which included being asked to wear a mask to help protect an immune-compromised member of the all-female troupe and each other. From here on in we become part of their community and are invited into their intimate blanket created space.
If you were lucky enough to have one in your primary school, playing with a parachute was one of the best parts of PE. Brave Space starts with a light violet coloured blanket that is similar to a large parachute or tent. The troupe start the performance underneath this material, with the audience in a circle around them. They begin to undulate, creating spikes and ripples with increasing intensity, as if you’re watching stalactites and stalagmites form in supersonic speed. Before long, a woman emerges, rising high above everyone, with the material wrapped around her, creating the illusion of a giant skirt. For a moment she seems like a giant Queen, a modern Boudicca. Then she descends, becomes another member of the white-clad troupe, and the acrobatics begin.
Everything the troupe performs, from spinning in a cyr wheel, to duo trapeze, to balancing on the very ends of poles, is completed with love and support. The performers smile broadly throughout, radiating joy, and in between movements there are hugs: are the women lovers, sisters, friends? The specifics don’t matter, the love displayed is pure and unconditional. If a hoop is occasionally dropped whilst juggling, it’s quickly picked up, their smile unbroken. That love is shared with the audience too, who are brought in to assist with certain stunts. They might be asked to simply pull on a rope, or hold a hula-hoop, but the message is clear: we trust you to be a valued part of our community.
Brave Space won’t be right for everyone. You need to feel comfortable with standing up or sitting on the floor for extended periods of time, packed in next to other audience members in an enclosed space. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t try to help you: chairs are available upon request before the show.
The impressive acrobatics wowed the audience from young to old, particular the trapeze work which really showcases the skill and strength of the performers. Aside from the talent displayed, what sets this apart from any other circus show is the warm and fuzzy feeling they’ve managed to create in their giant cosy blanket fort. In a world that feels more divisive and separated and full of worry than ever, sitting under a blanket next to strangers whose eyes are lit up with wonder is a beautiful thing. The ultimate message of Brave Space? Danger and fear exist, but love can conquer all.