Interview with Darcy Grant

Darcy Grant has Backbone

NORPA: Backbone by Gravity and Other Myths

Lismore City Hall  |  Friday 27 and Saturday 28 March  |  7.30pm  |  $25–$49

In less than a decade, Australian acrobatic sensations Gravity & Other Myths (GOM) have rocketed to international acclaim. This month they are bringing their biggest and most spectacular work, Backbone, to NORPA. A high-octane spree of physical virtuosity featuring ten extraordinary performers and a live band on stage, Backbone tests the limits of strength; physical, emotional, individual and collective.

Staged with a deceptively DIY aesthetic, and dispensing with trickery and distraction, this is circus that goes straight for the jugular. Backbone is a celebration of human connectedness and the meaning of strength. Backbone is directed by Northern Rivers local, Darcy Grant.

Have you always wanted to join the circus, Darcy?

I discovered the circus in Far North Queensland as a kid. I was part of a youth circus project called the Blackrobats. Since that time I’ve been pretty obsessed.

Is Backbone your directorial debut for Gravity and Other Myths?

Yes it is. It is also my first major work as a director. Backbone was commissioned by Adelaide Festival in 2017, and since then it has travelled across the world. The privilege of being commissioned for a major festival is immense. It allowed us the time and space to deeply question ourselves, and our form, in a time when a great deal of circus is becoming homogenous. Since then I have made another work with GOM called Out of Chaos.

Tell us a little about how Backbone came about?

The company was ready to make their next work, and we serendipitously crossed paths at the perfect moment. They needed some fresh eyes, and I found their company culture magnetic. They are a self-made success – young, raw, unpretentious, and hungry to create strong and deliberate meaning in contemporary circus.

Was there something that you always wanted to explore in Backbone from the outset?

Each GOM show is a provocation to the company. We wanted to express and shape meaning around the concept of ‘strength’ and the different ways it can be measured or embodied, inside an individual, or in a group.

What do you love about working with this company?

The hunger. This company grinds harder than any I’ve seen. They go above and beyond for each other, and never take the easy route if there’s something to learn.

There’s a lot of people on stage in Backbone – as a director, how do you keep cohesion, and stop it from descending into chaos?

Planning and communicating openly is the key. Giving everyone a voice, but also a framework to express themselves, whilst always pushing toward the clear end goal.

Backbone has travelled all over the world and has won a lot of awards – what do you think resonates with audiences about this show wherever it is performed?

Circus is an aspirational form, and people can always relate to how others use their body. There is a great saying that goes ‘There are three things a person can never take their eyes from; fire burning, water moving and another person using their hands well.’ I think that says it all.

It’s pretty special that you’re bringing this show to NORPA – why is that important to you?

My work is mostly based overseas, so being able to show my community what I’m doing with my time is special. I think the Northern Rivers will dig the work.

You’re also a wonderful photographer and spent some time documenting the Mount Nardi fire at Tuntable Falls near where you were living – tell us a bit about that experience and what you learnt about the community.

People are stronger than we know. Community is priceless, and at the end of the day – we are all in this together.

Backbone by Gravity and Other Myths is at NORPA. Friday 27 March, and Saturday 28 March, 7.30pm. Tickets: $25–$49. | 1300 066 772

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