15 C
Byron Shire
October 17, 2021

The homecoming of Miss One-Hand Walker

Latest News

Let’s get real

AFL Aussie Rules Grand Final in Western Australia... Rugby League Grand Final in Queensland... Melbourne Cup in Tasmania?    Margaret Keating,...

Other News

Tweed Mayor tries for 180 short term holiday letting limit

At the Tweed Shire Council (TSC) meeting (October 7) a late Mayoral Minute by Tweed Shire Mayor Chris Cherry...

Poor Mandy

Poor Mandy indeed (Letters, 29 September). Glenn, it sounds to me like you’re trying to put Mandy IN her...

Vaxing the community divide

Okay, so this issue is dividing our community into: ‘vaxing is great for our community’ and ‘vaxing is bad’. One...

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: Mind Your Language

The other day someone called me a sheeple. I was offended. Not personally, but on behalf of sheep. It’s a term meant to denigrate my agency by suggesting I have herd stupidity. Sheep are incredible, and surprising beings. Before you start denigrating sheep, you should know they are emotionally complex animals who can self-medicate!

Can we inoculate against the racism virus?

Like many others, I watched with interest the recently screened ABC documentary, The School that Tried to End Racism.

Mediterranean artisanal food

S Haslam There’s something very romantic and appealing about Provence, about French and Spanish food, about eating the sort of...

rhiannon yellow pic

I first met Rhiannon Walker when she was just 14, a bubbly enthusiastic young girl with a peculiar talent for standing on one hand. In other communities she would have been relegated to cartwheels in the backyard with her parents watching from the window in stupefied awe: ‘She’s very good, but you can’t spend your life doing cartwheels, Brian’.

But Rhiannon grew up in Mullumbimby (well Goonengerry actually) nurtured by Spaghetti Circus, one of the premier kids’ circus companies in Australia. As it turns out Rhiannon is a professional circus performer who is about to get her Arts degree from a prestigious university in Stockholm, and guess what she’s majoring in? One-handed handstands!

Today Rhiannon is 23 and she’s returning home for the upcoming Mullum Circus Festival as part of A Simple Space, a show she performs with Gravity and Other Myths with eight others including her fiancé Dan, also an acrobat.

Rhiannon literally did run away from the circus to join the circus. At 18, when she was on a European tour with Spaghetti Circus, Rhiannon decided to stay (she had a British passport).

‘I moved to Bristol and that’s where I met my fiancé Dan, and after that we auditioned and both got into one of the leading circus universities in the world – DOCH (Dance and Circus University in Stockholm Sweden). It was amazing. My teacher was a 65-year-old Russian man who didn’t speak any English. It was a three-year course but we dropped out two-and-a-half months before we finished because we got offered this show with Gravity and Other Myths. We have been touring that now for almost two years internationally. It’s an award-winning show – but when we finish, we are going back to Stockholm in January to get our Bachelor of Arts degree in circus. It’s incredible that we can do that now. I have a European passport, otherwise it would have cost half a million dollars!’

Adelaide-based Gravity and Other Myths grew out of the Adelaide Youth Circus (Cirkids) and is one of the many world renowned troupes travelling to Mullum to not just perform but to engage in training and skill sharing with other circus practitioners.

Like most circus performers Rhiannon has honed her specialities.

‘I am a hand balancer. I do one-handed handstands on pointy sticks. I am also a flyer. Our main thing we do is group acrobatics. Dan is also a flyer; even though he is a big boy, he is a phenomenal acrobat. It’s an hour-long show. It’s centred around games. It’s our pushing ourselves to the limits. We are very neutral and raw onstage, trying to be ourselves; none of us in glitter. It is far from cabaret; it’s about showing what the human body can do even if we fail. The show is all up close. It’s only a 6m by 4m stage; no matter how big the stadium, people come within half a metre of us. You can hear us panting, hear the strain of what we are doing.’

Performing circus is relentless. It’s not an industry where you can afford to let yourself go! ‘It’s relentless. Your body gets used to it and your stamina gets built up, but you are always exhausted at the end of the show.

The boys are sweating. It’s like ultimate bonding; we are all so close. There are nine of us in the company, and eight acrobats and one live musician, and we are all really good mates. When you work that closely together it really bonds you.

‘As for the games: they are elaborations of what we did as kids. Although I don’t remember skipping was quite as risqué… We do strip-skipping and we do a game that is like falling. It’s pretty much like when we were kids and trust games taken to the next level – like not falling from the ground but from three people high and you have to catch me. We have been compared to Cirque du Soliel with a fist full of grit…’

‘The beauty of our show,’ says Rhiannon, ‘is that it doesn’t always turn out the same every time. These are games so, like in games, they often end up different!’

Rhiannon is excited about returning to Mullum to participate in our local circus festival.

‘Teaching is an amazing passion. It’s incredible being able to pass on your knowledge to people who are passionate.’

And what does the future hold? Well, a wedding, that’s for sure. Rhiannon and Dan will be returning for their Byron wedding next year. While they haven’t planned anything specific yet, bride and groom will no doubt do something spectacular. ‘I am one of those girls who always has shorts under my dress!’ laughs Rhiannon, who may well be performing the world’s first one-handed bridestand.

Catch Rhiannon in her performance with Gravity and Other Myths on the Sunday morning of 27 September. Mullum Circus Festival – Friday 25, Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 September at the Mullumbimby Showground.

For tickets and info go to mullumcircusfest.com.

Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Mandatory vax

I write to you in response to the article on the front page of The Echo relating to mandatory vax. I find it extremely...

End the cult

A military conflict between China and the USA would very likely result in global nuclear war, a major setback to human civilisation and possibly...

Hundreds queue to have COVID test and two new cases in the NNSWLHD

Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSWLHD) is urging people to continue coming forward for testing and vaccination after two further COVID-19 cases were reported in the 24 hours to 8pm last night, October 14. 

Charges after cars damaged in police pursuit – Coffs Harbour

Police say a man has been charged following a pursuit, where a number of cars – including an unmarked police car – were sideswiped on the Mid-North Coast yesterday.