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David Solm

Interview with the stars of Limbo

6 June 2014 Rebecca White

This summer the hugely successful Limbo has returned to the London Wonderground for a second year of awe-inspiring contortion, sword-swallowing, Chinese Pole acrobatics, hand balancing and much more! London Calling’s Becky White caught up with two of the stars from the show as they embarked on their second London season.

 Interview with beat boxer and Chinese Pole artist Mikael Bres

Mikael is from Avignon, in the South of France and studied performance at a college of circus arts. He performs the Chinese Pole and beat boxes in the show.

London Calling: You are from the South of France, what attracted you to the Chinese Pole?

Mikael Bres: Well it is a nice story! When you go to circus school in France or in Europe you need a specialty, when I did my audition for the circus school in France at the end of the week they asked me what my specialty was and I was like “I don’t know!” and they said well you have to choose one. Then I looked around me and there was this pole in the training space and I said, “that, I’ll do that.”

They said “You will do the Chinese Pole?” and I said “Yeh, I’ll do that”. So when I started the school in September I did the Chinese Pole. I chose it just like that!

I was a break-dancer before and still am so I think it was the best way for me to move into circus. In between the verticality and the floor, the mix of these techniques works well.

LC: What was circus school like?

MB: One year of preparatory school, theatre, acrobatics, dance, circus, then afterwards I went to a super school for three years. This was every day, seven hours a day working on art, physical preparation, flexibility and Chinese Pole etc.

LC: You also do beat boxing?

MB: I started beat boxing because I was doing a lot of break-dancing, so I had this break beat, hip-hop background. I was just doing sounds on my own and I was annoying people but at some point it became much more hip-hop and that is the sound I have now.

LC: You have travelled around the world with Limbo?

MB: We have been to Scotland, Australia, Colombia, we might go to France, to Denmark, maybe back to Australia. For the moment my favourite has been Australia, the weather is wonderful as you are already warmed up for the show outside and the audience is really nice and respond to the show really well.

LC: How do you like living in London?

MB: I am happy to come back after last year as now I know the place, I want to go round and visit more than I saw last year. Now I know how it works here. But sometimes I do get stuck on the bus though like everybody.

LC: The show has changed a bit since last year, how do you manage to keep the performance fresh each time?

MB: The director makes sure that we keep the performances fresh by adding some new scenes. We also improved the existing scenes, we changed the choreography and I changed my solo a bit. We took out a bit of the show to make it tighter. We always keep the sparkle in the eyes and so we come to work motivated. It’s a new vibe, the atmosphere is the same but the show stays fresh!

LC: Have you ever had any accidents with the Chinese Pole?

MB: I drop a lot, but on mats! So I drop, drop, drop until I have it perfect, then I am not dropping anymore. Sometimes I slip a bit, with my hands, but nobody sees it. Actually I fell about a month ago in Edinburgh but it was not a big one I just landed a little harder than usual.

LC: What is your favourite part of the show?

MB: My best bit is during Danik’s performance when he is turning on this cane, normally when doing a handstand on a cane people have turning canes not turning on their own wrists like Danik does. I like the beat of the music and I like how the movement goes with the music and how the flow is. I also really like Evelyn’s act, the music is beautiful and it fits the act really well.

LC: If you could have the skills of any of the other members of the team whose would you have?

MB: All of them! I want to tap, I want to handstand, I want to be flexible like Evelyn. I want to breathe fire, actually maybe not that. Ok, yes I do want to do that too! But if I have to choose I want to tap dance.

 

 

 Interview with fire breather and sword swallower Heather Holliday

London Calling: In the show you are a fire breather and sword swallower. You must get asked a lot of annoying questions, what would you like to set straight about your skills?

Heather Holliday: I didn’t just wake up one morning and decide to start swallowing swords, that is the number one question I get asked. It’s not true… actually it was later that day. No seriously, swallowing swords was not supposed to be my life, I was just supposed to be a magician’s assistant for the summer. A fun summer job, then one thing lead to another and I started learning other things and it just turned into a career. It wasn’t planned, it just happened.

LC: Do you get to contribute much creatively when putting the show together?

HH: That is one of the great things about working on this show, the director Scott put us all in a room and we all looked at each other ‘What can you do?’ ‘How can we help each other?’ and ‘How can we make each others acts better?’ It is better than any other show I have worked in which is just a variety show where you just come on do your five minutes and then leave, we are all involved in each others pieces. It makes it a lot more fluid and beautiful. It is also amazing to know that other people can be involved and use their talents to heighten yours.

LC: If you weren’t a fire breathing sword swallower what would you be?

HH: That is so hard to say, I love performing so something else within that. I couldn’t do Evelyn’s act as I am kind of afraid of heights, I don’t even like performing in heels!

LC: Being one of the two female members of the cast do you ever feel outnumbered by the men?

HH: No, I like it! I often work in shows that are more feminine based with like one guy and the rest girls. So it is actually really nice to work with a guy contortionist rather than another girl contortionist, which is what you would find in most shows. That is one of the cool things about our show it isn’t normal.

LC: Do you think there is a bit of a general gender imbalance in what you do?

HH: When I first started there weren’t really any other female sword swallowers but for me that just helped my career. In the beginning I was getting booked so much and I wasn’t even that good but people wanted to see a girl do it.

LC: You have been doing this quite a long time, what do you enjoy most about the job?

HH: The travelling! I started in Coney Island which is still part of New York so it was my own ground and I really liked that but I’m amazed at all the places that this skill has taken me, I’ve been all over the world and I can’t wait to go more places. It is just one of the perks!

LC: So what is next?

HH: There is still half a year left on this contract and probably beyond, so more Limbo!

Limbo is on at London Wonderground until 17th August. Tickets from £10, available here.

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