We preview two cutting-edge circus shows coming to Hove this weekend


The Old Market, Hove, 7.30pm

Created by performers Nikki Runner and Jean-Daniel Brousse Knot is a show about intimacy, but from an unusual perspective.

It tells the story of two acrobats – one gay and one straight – tied together in an unconventional relationship.

Nikki and Jean-Daniel aim want their show to be thought of as an “exploration of LGBT+ identity and the bonds of companionship”.

The performers are rarely separated in the almost hour-long show as they navigate their fledgling bond with each other as well as their desire for love.

Nikki says: “We wanted the reality of our partnership to be the centre of the performance.

“Whenever we get off stage people say to us, ‘you must really trust each other’.

“Which is true – I trust JD not to drop me, and he trusts me not to kick him in the head.”

Nikki adds that it takes an immense amount of strength to hold the contorted poses and positions throughout the show.

While Knot delves into some hard-hitting themes, Nikki adds that comedy is important to the work and emphasising its poignancy.

Needless to say, she and Jean-Daniel have cultivated a close connection in their time working together.

“Underneath the physical side of it there is a much richer mix of fondness and irritability and creative companionship,” she says.

“Humour is so important to telling the story of what likes beneath the surface, and movement can be such a powerful way of showing the emotion.”

More specifically, Knot follows two acrobats who meet in a chance encounter. One is a frustrated lover and the other a jilted dreamer.

The show makes use of dance and storytelling as well as physical theatre and circus.

While the characters are fictional, Nikki and JD also acknowledge that the piece shines a light on their own real-life relationship.


The Old Market, Sunday, 7pm

Performance group Alulu Cyr have been credited with a slightly dubious honour – they’re the first all-female Cyr wheel trio.

Obviously, this needs some explaining. A Cyr wheel is a spherical piece of equipment used in circus to allow performers to wheel themselves across the stage in bewildering fashion.

Alulu Cyr’s show Hyena aims to celebrate “female strength” with “synchronised displays of Sisterhood”.

One of the group, Lil Rice, says she wanted to inspire other women with Hyena. “Hyena is a show about womanhood,” she says.

“It’s about beauty, power and the thin line we walk between being a human and a wild animal.”

“We wanted to make a piece that would inspire everyone – particularly women and girls – to find their voices and stand together.”

The title references the way female brown spotted hyenas club together and look after one another, which offered Alulu Cyr a reference point to explore female friendship.

Fiona Thornhill, Jessica Ladley and Rice trained in gymnastics, dance and music before studying together at the National Centre For Circus Arts.

They graduated in 2015 with a mission to make circus in the UK more female-centric.

One of the routines they perform in Hyena is the “Cyr Ball” – a ball created by using each of the three individual wheels. This stunt has never been seen before.

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