January 24, 2022
Arts & Culture

Three minutes with acrobat Jascha Boyce

Acrobat Jascha Boyce, a co-founder and director of South Australian contemporary circus company Gravity & Other Myths, is performing in the Adelaide Festival’s free outdoor opening night spectacular Macro, which is set to wow audiences in March.

SUZIE How did your acrobatic career begin?

JASCHA When I was four, I started taking recreational circus classes at Cirkidz Circus School, as an alternative to doing ballet or playing soccer. I was instantly drawn to the variety circus training offered, but even more captivated by the way circus embraces individuality. I was asked to join the performing troupe when I turned nine and spent the next 10 years training, creating and performing until I graduated.

SUZIE As an ensemble acrobat with Gravity & Other Myths, you usually take on the role of “flyer” or a “middle” on stage – what does that involve?

JASCHA Gravity & Other Myths’ core speciality is group acrobatics. There are three key roles in this skillset: base, middle and flyer. To describe these roles simply, the base tends to stay at the bottom of the pyramids, the middle in the middle and the flyer at the top. As a flyer I spend a lot of time without my feet on the ground. I walk on people’s heads, climb towers four people high and get thrown through the air. Surprisingly, I am actually quite afraid of heights but not when I am doing acrobatics. The knowledge that there are many people there to catch me if I fall removes the fear of falling almost entirely.

SUZIE How many injuries have you sustained while training and performing?

JASCHA I have been incredibly lucky throughout my career as an acrobat and have only suffered minor injuries, the worst of which was a broken nose from kneeing myself in the face during a double somersault. Recently, I have been performing a little less and spending more time managing the company, and I’ve found that I’ve sustained more injuries from sitting at a desk all day than doing circus!

SUZIE GOM’s ensembles have performed all over the world and recently won three awards in the inaugural International Circus Awards for this year’s Adelaide Festival work The Pulse. Tell us how you and your co-founders came to establish the company?

JASCHA The founders of GOM all grew up together training at Cirkidz. We have known one another since we were around 10. When we all graduated from the performing troupe in 2009, we were eager to continue training together, so we decided to make a show and GOM was born. At that stage, we each had other jobs or were studying, so acrobatics was more of a hobby than a career. However, in 2013 we decided to take our second show, A Simple Space, to the Edinburgh Fringe, as one last “hurrah” before we all went our separate ways. It was there that we met our agent and just six months later we had embarked on an eight-month international tour. Since then we have expanded from an ensemble of five performers to 30, and we have created seven award-winning works. Before COVID we had three ensembles touring the world full-time simultaneously.

SUZIE What can audiences expect from the new work Macro, which will open both the 2022 Adelaide Festival and the Edinburgh International Festival?

JASCHA Macro will see our entire ensemble of 30 acrobats join forces with First Nations dance company Djuki Mala, accompanied by a 30-voice choir and Scottish musicians, drawing upon traditional Gaelic and Indigenous Australian music.

SUZIE Your partner, Joren Dawson, is also an acrobat with GOM – what is it like working and performing together?

JASCHA Joren and I love working creatively with one another so much that we have made a duo show and started our own company, separate from GOM, creating large-scale, participatory art installations. Even after six years of working, living, touring, performing and creating together, we still enjoy it and wouldn’t have it any other way.

SUZIE Does your acrobatic training ever come in handy off-stage?

JASCHA My parents have definitely called in a few favours over the years. I have done my fair share of changing lightbulbs on Joren’s shoulder or dusting the house on stilts, but I think the collaborative nature of acrobatics has taught me endless lessons about trust and communication that I draw upon every day.

Macro will be presented on the Village Green at Adelaide Oval on March 5 as part of the 2022 Adelaide Festival. Gravity & Other Myths is also presenting I Want to Touch You – a show featuring six acrobats and jazz band Nu Article – in the Garden of Unearthly Delights during Adelaide Fringe.

This article first appeared in the December 2021 issue of SALIFE magazine.

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