A Spinning Acrobat Learns to Love Change - CircusTalk

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A Spinning Acrobat Learns to Love Change

The work of the French circus-dance troupe Compagnie Libertivore tends to keep turning. The stage set is usually round, as if to represent the planet on which we’re all stuck, and the performers gravitate to circular motion. They whirl and tumble in wheeling patterns. They spin while suspended in the air. Most distinctively, beginnings and endings — of movements, of sections — roll together in a vision of continual metamorphosis, a vision that presents change as both natural and beautiful.

Such a vision was what the company’s director and choreographer, Fanny Soriano, intended 10 years ago, when she first conceived of “Fractales,” the work that Libertivore is bringing to Peak Performances at Montclair State University for the troupe’s United States debut, Thursday through Sunday. She was finishing a solo, “Hêtre” (“Beech”), centered on a hanging beech-tree branch, and she was starting to make another solo, “Fractales,” meant to show her children how change can be positive. But then her own body began to alter.

First her back and left shoulder froze up. “In circus, you’re always working with pain, so it was normal to continue,” Soriano, 43, said in a video call from her home in Aubagne, in the south of France. She couldn’t hang from her left arm, so she did everything with her right one — until that became too painful. One knee stopped bending, then the other. “It got to the point where I couldn’t do anything.”

For months, she tried physical therapy, but the pain kept spreading to new places on her body. It took a year and half to get a clear diagnosis: ankylosing spondylitis, an inflammatory arthritis affecting the spine and joints.

“I thought I was going to be able to get back to performing, but it never happened,” she said. “I had to give up on my acrobatic career, the only thing I knew how to do, the only thing I wanted to do. I felt trapped in my own body.” …

Link to the Full Length Article at The New York Times