Skyward is a new show from Republic of Song, which makes the most of a collaboration with circus artist Georgia- Elizabeth Bale. Another take on the fusion of contemporary classical music and circus arts, this show makes a highly commendable addition to the field.
We begin with a beautiful dreamy introduction, a delicate song performed on cello and piano as we watch a mesmerising timelapse. Bale begins her series of aerial routines in the second scene, with a beautiful dance at the base of the aerial silks. Throughout the performance, Bale explores the inherent urge to escape, to fly free into the sky, and the inevitable sadness that comes with the realisation of gravity, and impossibility, and mortality.
Soprano Jo Willans sings beautifully, adding poignancy to the ethereal dreamscape before us. The songs are bright and clear; a personal favourite was the deliciously spooky version of ‘All the pretty horses’. Willans is half storyteller, half guide, taking her childlike-charge under her wing and marking the tale of struggle and ultimate attainment. The relationship between the two appears truly affectionate; it’s pleasant to see such an authentic connection on the stage. Both performers love their arts, it can be seen, both the singer and the mover appear to be genuinely enjoying their opportunity to present their talents.
Bale has been developing her skills incorporating lights into apparatus and costuming – her night of stars dress is a spectacle that awes the audience, soaring into the heights in a black dress sparkling with tiny pieces of starlight.
The musical accompaniment is provided by Toby Saltwell on cello and John Woods on piano, and it moves between gentle waves and a stronger urgency fluidly, sweetly, gracefully. I am the first to admit that my own knowledge surrounds the circus aspect of this show rather than being able to critique the musical presentation: suffice to say, the live soundtrack added great enjoyment to my experience.
The final denouement in which Bale takes flight on the lyra, her apparatus of choice, is joyous to watch. This is the first full-length solo aerial performance that she has presented, and she is still learning to be present enough to truly sink into the moment, but when she winds herself around the ring in this last active routine her ever-increasing strength and skills shines out.
The vision of the creators is strong and the work is a beautiful fairy tale executed with charm.
Nadia Jade saw Skyward on May 12th as part of Anywhere Festival 2019
Aerialist | Georgia-Elizabeth Bale
Soprano | Jo Willans
Counterweight | Stefanie Awiszus
Cello | Toby Saltwell
Piano | John Woods
Photographer | Michael Owen
Images | Nahkana Earth & Art (Krystal Beazley)